Wood demands intensity from England
England enter their opening QBE International against Australia inspired by a war cry from Tom Wood outlining the level of ferocity needed to compete in the cauldron of Test rugby.
The countdown to the 2015 World Cup begins in earnest this autumn, with fixtures against the Wallabies, Argentina and New Zealand offering a gauge of the team's health two years out from the greatest prize of all.
Wood will be among those leading the assault on Australia at Twickenham, and on the eve of a year head coach Stuart Lancaster has described as "defining", the Northampton flanker has spoken of the standards demanded by England.
"It's all about intensity and if you've got it, you've got it. That's what we need every week as a prerequisite," he said.
"We don't have to ask for it. We don't have to have a bad performance.
"We don't have to have a kicking from the coaches or be dragged through the mud by the press before we have a reaction and say 'yeah, we're up for it'.
"We have to set our own standards. This is England and this is what we are about.
"You don't come here and take your foot off the gas. England is your club level plus 20 per cent and more.
"There is an expectation here that you don't walk in defence. You don't amble to rucks.
"You hit them with everything you've got and then you get up and look for the next one. That is what our expectation of each other has got to be.
"We have got to demand that of each other. The new guys have to realise that. Otherwise you lose."
Wood insists England must win the battle of wills at the breakdown if they are to relieve Australia of the Cook Cup.
A display of controlled violence underpinned last autumn's record 38-21 victory over New Zealand - the high point of Lancaster's two-year reign - and Wood is seeking more of the same.
"I don't know how controlled it was against New Zealand, but yes there was an element of violence. That's the game," he said.
"Mentally you have got to make sure you are there. That's the only difference.
"If you want to hit a ruck as hard as you can, you will hit a ruck as hard as you can if you are there fully charged up before the game, ready to go. Hitting a ruck is not a science. You put your head where it hurts and do it as hard and fast as you can and that is the end of it.
"Test his will. It's your will against his. If he's up for it more than you, if he's braver than you, he's going to get the better of you. It doesn't matter how big and strong he is. That's what breakdown is about for me.
"Collectively, you saw across the board in the New Zealand game there was a level of intensity with people looking for rucks to hit.
"You see Tom Youngs going in horizontal and smoking bricks backwards. Everybody was doing that from one to 15."
The last time England's strongest XV took the field was the 30-3 rout by Wales in Cardiff, a result that destroyed their hopes of a maiden Grand Slam under Lancaster.
Wood confesses they are still "reeling" from a result that some have claimed demonstrates the team lack the physicality to challenge at the highest level.
"It doesn't sit well still. That was not a lack of Test match intensity," he said.
"There were physical tackles going in, some resilient defence for much of the game.
"We got caught by an emotionally charged Wales on the day. Once the dam broke around the 50 to 60 minute mark, we got left behind.
"We know what was at stake that day. They got it right. We didn't."
Wood led England during their summer tour to Argentina when his friend Chris Robshaw was rested. Robshaw has been preferred for the post this autumn, however.
"I actually made a point of being in touch with Chris while it was all going on just to say 'let's not get caught up in this for one second'," he said.
"I said to him 'you know you've got my full support if you are named captain and I'll assume the same. Or anybody else'.
"As he has been named captain I am going to be the best lieutenant I can and make sure that I'm alongside him doing what I tried to do last autumn and during the Six Nations - working as hard as I can, setting a good example and making sure I've got Chris' back.
"I've got an England shirt on my back at the weekend and that is all I am worried about."