Changes in footwear the key for Wood
Italy’s downfall next weekend could be home made, with England’s Tom Wood revealing his injury-beating footwear comes from the peninsula.Stuart Lancaster’s side are on course for England’s first Six Nations Grand Slam in a decade and, having impressively beaten Scotland, Ireland and France, they will clash with Italy on March 10th before travelling to face Wales six days later.
Italy will be looking to spoil the party at Twickenham, although any chances of an upset could have been weakened by Italian craftsmanship. Wood, who starred in England’s 23-13 defeat of France on Saturday, has long struggled with a foot injury, which is managed by a satellite tracking device and special boots – designed in Italy.
“A lot of modern boots are made for footballers, very light and agile, less substance to the boots so you’ve got more feel for the ball,” Wood said.
“We needed extra support in the boot. Most boots under the weight of a rugby player will collapse as you flex the toe. They’ll just bend in half which puts enormous strain on the ball of my foot and the big toe, which is where the problem was.
“So, they get sent to Italy. It must go to one of their labs where they stiffen them, put insoles in them, and now they don’t flex very much. They are far more substantial.”
The changes in footwear have seen Wood drop two shoe sizes to a 10-and-a-half in order to help to stop his foot slipping. Such attention to detail has helped him get back to his best and lifted a weight off his mind.
The improved level of comfort saw Wood play the full 80 minutes of Saturday’s battling victory over France, after which forwards coach Graham Rowntree said it was his best performance in England shirt.
Meanwhile, Italy coach Jacques Brunel has included Sergio Parisse in a 31-man training squad despite the Stade Français number eight currently serving a 30 day ban. He was suspended for insulting a referee Laurent Cardona in Stade’s match against Bordeaux-Begles on February 16th. Parisse is appealing the ban in the hope of facing Ireland in Rome on March 16th.
ITALY(squad v England): Forwards: R Barbieri (Treviso), M Castrogiovanni (Leicester), L Cittadini (Treviso), A De Marchi (Treviso), P Derbyshire (Treviso), S Favaro (Treviso), J Furno (Narbonne), Q Geldenhuys (Zebre), L Ghiraldini (Treviso), D Giazzon (Zebre), A Lo Cicero (Racing Metro), F Minto (Treviso), S Parisse (Stade Francais), A Pavanello (Treviso), M Rizzo (Treviso), R Vosawai (Treviso), A Zanni (Treviso), Mauro Bergamasco (Zebre). Backs: T Benvenuti (Treviso), T Botes (Treviso), K Burton (Treviso), P Buso (Zebre), G Canale (La Rochelle), G Garcia (Zebre), E Gori (Treviso), T Iannone (Treviso), A Masi (Wasps), L McLean (Treviso), L Orquera (Zebre), L Morini (Treviso), G Venditti (Zebre).