Wood backing Saints to carry domestic form on to European stage


Tom Wood feels Saints are more than capable of enjoying as much success in Europe as they have on the domestic front of late.

But he has warned his team-mates that the Rugby Champions Cup will be a different beast to life in the Aviva Premiership.

Saints face an intriguing opening night tussle on Saturday as they kick off their cup campaign in Paris against big-spending Racing Metro.

It will be a test of the travelling team’s credentials, but they go into the game on a high after claiming five wins from their first six Premiership games.

And England star Wood said: “I’m pretty happy with where we are at the minute and our current form. We’ve shown real strength in depth and when we get our game together we’ll be a real challenge for anyone.

“Over the past couple of years we’ve started pretty slowly in Europe and we’ve had a few hiccups, against the likes of Leinster, Ulster and Scarlets.

“We need to recognise the difference between the Premiership and European rugby.

“We can’t carry any complacency in after our recent wins.

“We have to adjust to the European refereeing, which has been different to the Premiership in the past. We’ve been caught cold at the breakdown a couple of times.

“There are lessons to learn but if we get our game going we’ll be difficult to stop.”

As a keen student of the game, Wood is well aware of how European Cup rugby differs to the Premiership.

And he said: “It’s a step up in terms of pressure.

“The England analysis team did some work based on ball in play and speed of the game and actually found the European Cup is not a step up from the Premiership.

“If anything it’s slower because it’s more brutal and packs are heavier.

“There’s more static mauling and scrummaging and it doesn’t mean you’re not doing work, it just means there’s less metres being covered.

“It’s a step up in terms of pressure, you get fewer chances and less room for error because kickers and that much sharper and you can’t afford those mistakes.

“You give a French team the ascendancy at the maul and they’ll run riot.

“We can’t feel our way into it, we’ve got to make sure we’re out the blocks. That’s the big thing for us.”