Tom Wood’s Determination Can be an Example to Jamie Roberts

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Both England and Wales have revealed their teams to face their respective Southern Hemisphere opponents on Saturday and whilst there is success for England’s Tom Wood being selected at open-side flanker, there is equal disappointment for Wales’ Jamie Roberts having been dropped from the starting XV to face Argentina at the Principality Stadium.

Tom Wood’s Determination Can be an Example to Jamie Roberts

Roberts has started on the last 72 occasions he has played for Wales and with 84 caps in total for his country and 3 British and Irish Lions caps, he forms a triumvirate of staggering experience with both Alun Wyn Jones and Gethin Jenkins – who retains the captain’s armband despite Sam Warburton’s return.

“Every Selection is Difficult”

During a press conference this week, Welsh Head Coach Rob Howley explained the thinking behind selection for this week when he said:  “Every selection is difficult.  In light of the performance at the weekend, it was a difficult game because of the lack of possession and lack of territory in the first half”.

He went on to say: “I sat down with Jamie this morning.  There were a number of defensive errors in our game and Jamie is defensive captain.  So we made a decision that the standard of the defence wasn’t good enough and we need a reaction so we made a change.”

The decision splits opinion in the rugby community with some saying it required a change and some stating that it was just a bad game that can be reversed with a strong performance in the next match.

Inspiration

However, despite the disappointment of the decision, Roberts can take inspiration from England’s Wood who, after the disastrous World Cup in 2015, was not only dropped from the English starting XV, he was ejected from the men in white’s squad. In addition, newly appointed Head Coach Eddie Jones’ statement that he was ‘distinctly average’, definitely had the effect of rubbing salt into his already fresh and gaping wounds.

Yet Wood, far from sulking or throwing a tantrum, took those words from Jones and used them as inspiration. He told The Guardian:  “I didn’t throw my toys out of the pram.  The reality was, I wasn’t picked because what he had seen from me hadn’t been good enough at that stage.  Eddie is very straight-talking.  He says it how it is at the time and then moves on pretty quickly.”

He has gone away and worked on the physical side of his game without sacrificing his strengths where he can bring another option to the line-out. Crucially, however, he has shown that he recognized there was room for improvement and has worked hard to achieve it.  Roberts may be able to use Wood’s example to re-invigorate his international career and come back stronger and wiser.

Both men are thirty with maybe three or four more good years left in them. Wood has taken his opportunity and unlocked the door to those years.  Roberts has a clear opportunity to search for the key and do the same.

Old Mutual Wealth Series 2016

Saturday 12th November – England v South Africa  14.30   Twickenham

Under Armour Autumn International Series 2016

Saturday 12th November – Wales v Argentina         17.30   Principality Stadium

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