New skipper Wood issues rallying call to Saints stars

Tom Wood will skipper Saints this season (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Tom Wood will skipper Saints this season (picture: Sharon Lucey)

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Tom Wood says he has delivered a mission statement to his Saints team-mates, stressing that the hard work starts now.

Wood was named captain of the club last week, taking over from Lee Dickson, who spent a year as skipper.

And the flanker has immediately set about ensuring standards are set off the field, with a real desire to put things right after last season’s disappointments.

Saints finished fifth in the Aviva Premiership last time round, ending the season outside of the top four for the first time since 2009.

They did reach the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup, but Wood knows more will be expected during the 2016/17 campaign.

And he said: “What I tried to do as captain on day one was set our stall out and deliver a bit of a mission statement.

“I felt we meandered a bit last season and we never really got into our stride.

“We did lots of very good things, but we didn’t have the consistency you need to win championships.

“There were a lot of frustrated players at the back end of last season and a lot of disappointment that we hadn’t fulfilled our potential - not by a long shot.

“You can’t just turn up at quarter-finals and finals and hope to win. You need to start now.

“You need to put the foundations in place and that’s everything from the standards you set in the gym, training field, skills to off-field stuff like team building and togetherness.

“You have to build all that and you can’t just say ‘we’ve got a final to win’, it doesn’t work like that.

“I genuinely believe that we’re up there as one of the most talented groups in the league, but we just didn’t quite have the cohesive unit we’ve had in previous years to get the results last year.

“We’ve had a review and nothing was off-limits, really, from coaching down to playing.

“We just scrutinised the lot and decided to go back to the drawing board a little bit.”