Rugby Union

No guarantees from England flanker Tom Wood ahead of World Cup title bid

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Tom Wood refuses to guarantee England's success in their pursuit of World Cup glory, but insists they have given everything to place themselves in the best possible position to challenge for the title.

The eighth instalment of the global showpiece begins when Fiji visit Twickenham tonight and the hosts must also meet Wales, Australia and Uruguay in an epic Pool A that will see at least one tier-one heavyweight return home.

Reigning champions New Zealand are favourites to retain their crown, but England know that if they top their group, they will secure a kinder passage through to the final.

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How Stuart Lancaster's men will perform on home soil while burdened by the hopes of a nation is unknown, but Wood insists their dedication to lifting the Webb Ellis Cup will never waver.

"I know we're not entitled to win it. There are some great teams out there and I can't promise you success," Wood said.

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"All I can say is that we've left no stone unturned in terms of our preparation. We have absolutely given everything to the cause, put ourselves through absolute torture in the gym and on the field.

"We'll manage the hype and expectation and all that comes with that on home soil, but I'm humble enough to know that there's no entitlement and no guarantee.

"The bounce of the ball can be a cruel thing, a refereeing decision can go against you, so we just have to do our best to give ourselves the best possible chance in each and every game."

Niki Goneva insists Fiji will draw on their spiritual strength when their "small island" turns its collective gaze to Twickenham for the biggest match in the nation's rugby history.

The Islanders are intent on reaching the quarter-finals and are widely acknowledged to have the capacity to upset the tier one heavyweights, a feat they managed eight years ago when they sent the Welsh spinning out of the tournament.

It will be early morning in the Pacific as the entire Fiji nation comes to a halt to watch Goneva and his team-mates attempt to stun the rugby world.

"Everybody will be watching this game back home. Families and loved ones will come together to watch us," said Goneva, the Aviva Premiership's leading try-scorer with Leicester for the 2013-14 season.

"This match means a lot. We know that Fiji is a small island and it means a lot to the boys. It's a big task in front of us.

"It's not easy and we are playing for everybody back home, our family and our small island. Mentally, spiritually and physically we are strong."

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Topics:
Rugby Union
England Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup

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