Mallinder backs Saints star Wood to be full-time England skipper

FULL BACKING - Jim Mallinder says Saints flanker Tom Wood would do a brilliant job if named England captain on a full-time basis
FULL BACKING - Jim Mallinder says Saints flanker Tom Wood would do a brilliant job if named England captain on a full-time basis

Saints boss Jim Mallinder says Tom Wood would be a ‘brilliant choice’ to take up the role of England captain on a full-time basis.

Wood skippered the Red Rose on their tour of South America during the summer, steering the team to a 2-0 Test series victory against Argentina.

Ahead of last month’s announcement of England’s Elite Player Squad, there was speculation the Saints flanker would also be named skipper for this year’s autumn internationals.

And with clarification set to come in October, Mallinder believes Wood would be a good choice should Stuart Lancaster opt to relieve Harlequins forward Chris Robshaw of the role.

“I think he’d be a brilliant choice,” said the Saints director of rugby. “Everybody respects Tom, what he says and what he does, and if Stuart were to pick him as captain he’d do a really good job for them.”

Wood was also in the running for the Saints captaincy, with Mallinder forced to make a tough decision on Dylan Hartley following the hooker’s sending off in the Premiership final.

Hartley was eventually handed the skipper’s role for the fifth season in succession last week, but that’s certainly nothing to do with what Mallinder thinks of Wood.

“Tom’s been brilliant,” he said. “I guess he was disappointed not to go with the Lions, but that didn’t affect him in his outlook of wanting to play for England and do well.

“I know from speaking to Stuart Lancaster, he was very, very impressed with the job that Tom did.

“So in terms of us as a club that’s brilliant, that we’ve got leaders like that. We’ve got Phil Dowson, Lee Dickson’s a real good leader on the field, Kahn Fotuali’i is a leader. They’re the types of players we need in the team. We need as many leaders as we possibly can.”