Dave Woods Has Written Something That Belongs In The Fiction Section

I don’t like reading fictional stories unless they are of the pornographic kind. I just feel like they are a waste of time, and anyway, I’ll wait until it comes out as a movie.

So when I go to the BBC web site to read the Rugby League news, and I come across a piece of fiction, I really don’t appreciate it at all.

Dave Woods. Yes David, I’m talking about you and your article Team spirit key to England glory .

Seriously, dude, are you shitting me? I mean, I’m going to have to go through this article now picking points out. My blood pressure is going to go up, I’m gonna start drinking too much coke late at night which will keep me up too late, and worst of all, I could be looking at porn instead.

You’ve really ruined my evening.

You can put 24 good players together and still fail to find a winning team. But assemble 24 good players with the right attitude and you have a chance.

Sweet. Now what if you had say, 24 outstanding players with the right attitude and put them up against 24 very average players with the right attitude?

Pound for pound and pedigree for pedigree, Australia and New Zealand have enough between them to make sure that one or the other wins this year’s Four Nations, which runs from 23 October to 6 November.

But the character of the players included in the England squad and the attitude encouraged by coach Steve McNamara suggests the possibility of an upset down under.

What makes you think that? Lets just for a second pretend that England has some mythical fantastic attitude for some unknown reason. Do you honestly think that the players in the Australian and New Zealand squads, who forge their careers in the worlds toughest sporting competition over six months, who play every week against the worlds best, many of whom then line up in a State Of Origin series year in year out, which is little more than a war without weapons, will be going into any series of any kind with anything less then a great attitude as well?

You think Darren Lockyer is ready to phone it in?

As every coach who has ever taken a team on tour will tell you, the spirit off the field is hugely important in attempting to forge positive results on it.

Its one factor, but it doesn’t override talent, experience or the proven ability to win.

That is not to say this England squad is lacking in skill. They have a pack that can crush bones with the best of them.

When? If you want to talk about what the English pack can do, lets talk about what they have done. They have been dominated by Australia and New Zealand for decades now. These are results, I’m not going on anything but the results on the scoreboard.

At what time did we get to the end of a series and say “Wow, that English pack, they were crushing bones out there dude. Shame England lost by 40.”?

Adrian Morley is an inspirational presence, Sam Burgess and Gareth Ellis have both been singled out as probably the best-second rowers in the world in their stints in the NRL, while Sean O’Loughlin has just had a terrific season with Wigan. 

Morely is old. Burgess was alright at best and Ellis is running so wide as a second rower that he could be serving beers in the grandstands! As for O’Loughlin, I’m waiting for him to look like anything more than a run of the mill, nothing special English forward…and the standards that English forwards have set is not good my friend.

Throw in the likes of James Graham, a thoroughly modern prop forward, the rejuvenated Stuart Fielden, Ben Westwood, James Roby, Shaun Lunt, Eorl Crabtree, Darrell Griffin, Joel Tomkins and Ben Harrison and you can pick a seriously good starting six with another three in reserve for any game.

What is a modern prop? Seriously, you look back at what made a good prop 50 years ago and you’ll find it hasn’t changed a great deal. At least James Graham is thoroughly modern!

Also, when did Stuart Fielden become rejuvenated? Even Wigan fans watch him play and just see a big pile of money burning. Westwood is nothing special, Roby is good for a scoot or two but lacks a kicking game and isn’t great in defense, Lunt is nothing to write home about and Crabtree is big and….well, he’s big.

England also have a full-back in Sam Tomkins who can out-dazzle even the great Billy Slater on his day. If Tomkins plays in that role, chiming into the line on the back of a pack giving great go-forward, he can be devastating. 

Seriously David. I mean, you’re an intelligent bloke. Why would you write something like this? You must have know that everyone that knows anything about the game would read this and face-palm.

Paul Wellens has been magnificent over the years and remains on top of his game but he has never been able to produce as sharp a cutting edge in attack as young Tomkins can. The Wigan player will be a handful for both Kiwi and Kangaroo defences.

By that he means, Paul Wellens is a disaster. A liability in attack and defense. Then again Tomkins is going to trouble two sides that are full of players who, every week, line up against fullbacks like Slater, Hayne, Dugan, Boyd, Bowen, Coote.


He is a young full-back who loves to get involved in the line on attack, acting as an extra pivot with a confident kicking game, although he remains a potential talent rather than the finished article having played only three NRL games so far.

Either he or Tomkins may also play at six, of course, where Kevin Brown will also challenge for a spot. 

I probably would have stopped writing there, thinking “We’re screwed”, scrapping this whole article and writing a puff piece about Sam Tomkin’s tattoos or how Michael Monaghan gave a few throw away quotes that have been run endlessly in the press this week!

Brown has developed into a confident and highly skilled practitioner under the guidance of Nathan Brown, a claim that can also be made about Luke Robinson.

Australia chose not to select Scott Prince. Thats the type of difference that makes you pucker!

The perceived weakness is in the three-quarters but give the lads a chance. Michael Shenton, Ryan Atkins, Ryan Hall, Tom Briscoe, Leroy Cudjoe, Darrell Goulding and Tony Clubb have each been talked about for some time as having big futures in the game.

Perceived? We’re without 57 of our top centers, and we still named players with Origin and Test experience. When you’re weak, you’re weak!

Well, now is the time for those futures to be turned into the here and now. It is up to them to prove how big a talent each of them can be.

There is a distinct lack of seniority and international experience in the back line but then England did take a back line that included the likes of Wellens, Martin Gleeson, Keith Senior, Leon Pryce, Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow to a World Cup in 2008.

They all played in a match against the Aussies in Melbourne and were crushed 52-4. 

Still, that English forward pack was crushing some bones dude!

McNamara is right not to go back to those familiar names, all two years older, when each of the new boys have got some great domestic form on the board.

But it is the spirit in the camp being engendered by McNamara that is the most encouraging aspect of this tour.

Even before they set off, the talk was about “enjoyment” and “having fun”. They have plenty of extra-curricular activities planned to ensure that happens. 

I can just see Australia and New Zealand coming into camp and saying “Boys, lets just have fun…..SPRING BREAK!”. Then again, you get the feeling that Darius Boyd’s idea of fun would be watching Season 1 Glee DVD’s in a toilet cubicle.

I digress.

You cannot expect young men to go away from home for six weeks, leaving families and close friends, and expect them to live a monastic lifestyle, only escaping boring hotel rooms to train before attempting to produce some magic on the pitch. 

I like to think the best thing to do is treat it all like a Contiki Tour. Getting on and off of buses, getting pissed. I’m sure I read that somewhere…

The approach this time is fresh – and so are many of the faces.

It might turn out to be the old familiar story of disappointment down under. Then again, this lot may just surprise a few. 

Points made, nice wrap up there, but seriously Dave, we both know how this is gonna end.

England will get smashed and they’ll head home with their tail between their legs before the final is played between Australia and New Zealand.

There will be a few days of honest, self reflection before the same old bullshit brigade starts to wind up, and by Christmas England will be “Catchup up” and talking about how they had five players named in some stupid “worlds team” that was voted on by a punch of Pommy hacks.

No more fictional stories Dave. Its not good for my blood pressure or my sleeping patterns!

Read Dave Woods Article Here: Team Spirit Key To England Glory .

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