QBE Internationals: Trevor Woodman delighted with England pack
Trevor Woodman believes Stuart Lancaster's pack is among the best in world rugby but needs more support from the backs.
Last Updated: 17/11/13 12:55pm
Lancaster admits to being disappointed after his side went down 30-22 to New Zealand on Saturday and Woodman felt that assessment was spot on despite their best performance in three Autumn internationals.
The former Gloucester and Sale front-row, who won 22 caps, felt there were plenty of positives to take from the performance especially among the forwards where they put the All Blacks through a tough 80 minutes.
"That's what everyone has been waiting for. Australia was slightly disappointing, Argentina was good for 30 or 40 minutes," Woodman told Sky Sports News.
"The first 15 minutes they would have been slightly disappointed with because they gave the All Blacks a 17-3 lead but when you look at the all-round performance, the intensity and the pace they tried to play at was really up there and they matched New Zealand.
"What Chris Robshaw did when he told Owen Farrell to kick to the corner and said 'we're 17-3 down, we've got to muscle up now and take the All Blacks on' all led to Joe Launchbury's try.
"You also see a forward pack that is comfortable with the ball in hand. They have a tight five who all want to carry the ball.
"If you are going to take the All Blacks on you have to stop their go-forward. No team can really play on the back foot and that England pack took them apart in several aspects. The driving maul was strong and the scrum and that would have hurt them."
It was clear on Saturday there is still plenty of work to do when the ball is out of the pack's hands, but Woodman feels getting younger players experience in those situations will help in the future.
"It's been an experiment for the last two or three games. Obviously missing Manu Tuilagi, he's a great loss, and it's unfortunate he'll probably miss the Six Nations but you look at Billy Twelvetrees, he's really grown in the last couple of games.
"The question mark is Joel Tomkins, I don't think he's had a great two or three games but again he's pretty much six months into his rugby union career and it's not to say he's not going to turn up in the next 12 months.
"Maybe they look at Henry Trinder going through to the Six Nations, a more natural outside centre for the attacking style of rugby England like to play. He has out-and-out pace and is very good ball-in-hand putting people away. He plays with Twelvetrees week-in, week-out as well."
Woodman saved special praise for Billy Vunipola, who continued his rise through the ranks with an impressive performance against an All Blacks pack full of experience.
"Billy is someone I've worked with at London Wasps over the last few years, now he's gone to Saracens, and his game has developed at the top end of the table," Woodman added.
"He's the sort of player that takes three defenders in with him every time he carries the ball.
"What he's also good at is when those three defenders are marking him, he starts moving that ball and there's going to space for other people.
"For someone who is 21 years old, with two or three caps, putting in performances like that he has to be there for two years time.
"It will make Ben Morgan play better as well and we saw what he did when he came off the bench as an impact player. To have those sort of destructive players is great for that England pack."