Warrior Wood is the right man to lead Saints

Tom Wood scored a season-defining try against Leicester in 2014 (pictures: Linda Dawson)
Tom Wood scored a season-defining try against Leicester in 2014 (pictures: Linda Dawson)
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Anyone who has met Tom Wood will recognise that he has been a captain-in-waiting at Saints for some time.

A huge presence on and off the field, the England flanker leads from the front, with his commitment to the cause striking.

Wood often shoulders media duties after disappointing defeats

Wood often shoulders media duties after disappointing defeats

During Dylan Hartley’s tenure as Saints skipper, Wood was often called upon to step in and lead the team on a matchday.

He captained Saints in the Amlin Challenge Cup and Aviva Premiership final wins back in 2014, with his drive and determination setting the benchmark for others.

He has also shouldered responsbility off the field, too, with his ability to deal with difficult media situations not going unnoticed among assembled scribes.

He stepped up after Saints lost the Premiership final to Leicester in 2013 and answered some difficult questions on the day Hartley saw red.

Wood skippered Saints to Amlin Challenge Cup final glory in 2014

Wood skippered Saints to Amlin Challenge Cup final glory in 2014

He also fronted up after humiliating Heineken Cup home defeats against Leinster and Ulster.

And, as recently as April, he stepped up once again, after a loss to Leicester at the Gardens all but ended Saints’ hopes of making the Premiership play-offs for the seventh successive season.

He is the man for all occasions and someone who has stamped his mark on Saints since moving to the club from Worcester in 2010.

And now he will get the chance that many have felt he was destined to take.

Wood with Alex Corbisiero and Premiership final mascot Luis Ghaut

Wood with Alex Corbisiero and Premiership final mascot Luis Ghaut

To lead the club he has poured bucketloads of blood, sweat and tears into during his six-year stay.

Wood is popular with the players and coaches because of the way he performs, and he is hugely admired by the Franklin’s Gardens faithful for the way he gives everything he has.

Supporters love nothing more than to watch a player who clearly cares about the club as much as they do.

Saints have been lucky that the likes of Hartley and last season’s skipper, Lee Dickson, have an innate passion for a club they have spent the best years of their career at.

And now Wood will get his opportunity to etch his name alongside the top names who have steered the Saints ship.

A sign of his commitment can be seen by what happened at the end of the previous campaign, which Wood admits was hard to take for all involved.

He did not watch any of the play-offs as he couldn’t bare the fact that he and his team-mates were not involved.

And another reason for ignoring events elsewhere in the league came in the form of a pain in the neck.

Wood had the pressing matter of having surgery on a problem he had been carrying for six months.

So committed was he to helping Saints get back to where they feel they belong that he constantly played through the pain barrier.

One of his arms might not have been working properly, but no matter.

Wood, a man who will be forever remembered for roaring like King Leonidas after scoring a season-defining try in the title-winning season of 2013/14, continued to maintain his reputation as a teak-tough warrior.

And he was one of Saints’ best and most consistent performers as they ensured they would not suffer the ignominy of finishing outside the top six.

That would have forced Northampton to travel to some European outposts in the Challenge Cup.

But that is not where this club, with the strength of squad it possesses, deserves to be.

Thanks to the work of Wood and many others, they will once again be dining at the top table in Europe again next season.

And there is no better man to lead them to the feast than Wood.