NZ'er Woodward aims high with Gloucester

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    09 Jan 2018     Getty Images

Well-placed to make a strong tilt and the Premiership title this season, in spite of injury frustrations, Gloucester are not hoping to be just in the top four with Exeter, Saracens and Wasps, they want to win.

Woodward told The Rugby Paper that the side now coached by former Lions Super Rugby coach Johan Ackermann was by no means just trying to come fourth.

"Other people may look at it that way, but we're looking to pressure the teams above us.

"We talked in pre-season about being more resilient and it's worked – closing out a tight game against Sale last week was another example of the work we're putting in.

"We've got a full squad to call on now, so that has meant a step up in the quality of our training and we're confident.

"Johan's given the boys a bit of licence to play and it's probably a similar style of footy to the Southern Hemisphere.

"A lot of boys were used to the idea that anywhere near our own 22 we had to kick it.

"But it doesn't matter where we are on the field now, he wants us to play with our heads up, trust our instincts and the players around us, spot the overlaps and go for it," he said.

Woodward said there had definitely been a shift in attitudes in the north and there were some outstanding skills in the Premiership so why shouldn't they be used?

"The more everyone keeps ball in hand the prettier it is to watch; it's no surprise so many tries are being scored," he said.

Woodward remains in the England frame, having trained with the side last season. However, a hamstring injury in October ruined his chances of being considered for the early stages of England's programme.

"It was great to get a chance to train with England last season and I was happy with the way things were going here before suffering my recent injury but it's nice to be back now and giving the coaches some good selection headaches," he said.

With Gloucester nearly back to full fitness the competition for places had increased in the squad and brought the side a lot closer.

"It would be fantastic if anyone gets called up by England but our only focus is on the task in front of us. We're going strongly in the Premier and the Challenge Cup is another big target for us.

"We play Agen and Pau over the next couple of weeks and if we win those the Pool is in our hands, so there's a lot to play for," he said.