CLIVE WOODWARD last night revealed he has no worries about his England team if tomorrow's World Cup final against Australia becomes a survival of the fittest.
The Australian media have targeted England's pack this week, labelling the red rose forwards 'Dad's Army', with three 30-somethings starting, and two more - prop Jason Leonard and hooker Dorian West - on replacement duty.
The pack's average age is 29 years and three months, three years older than Australia's forward unit, but Woodward has dismissed any fears about England running out of steam.
"We have no doubt about how the Australians are going to play this game," said head coach Woodward.
"They are going to play it at 100 miles an hour. They are going to come up with all kinds of new things, from scrums, line-outs and tap penalties, and they are going to try and play the ball all over the pitch and try and run this team out.
"I know that we are able to handle that, because it is not about age, it is about fitness, and I do believe in Dave Reddin (England fitness adviser).
"He believes that these guys could go head to head with a pack of 21-year-olds in terms of ability to run round the field.
"I believe that England are at their best, at their peak, and I don't care how old you are. Linford Christie won the gold medal at 36, so it doesn't make any difference at all.
"The front-row is very young by international standards, and Ben Kay is only in his mid-20s, and I think that it is just a good balance.
"Fitness is everything, and I believe that to be true of Martin Johnson, Lawrence Dallaglio and Neil Back. They are all fitter than they have been at any stage in their lives."
Woodward will not make any predictions about the result, but is relaxed and full of "inner confidence" as he fine-tunes England's preparation.
"I am extremely excited by this game, I think that it is a great match-up and these are the best two teams in the world," he added.
"All that I can say, categorically, is that there is nothing that I would change going into this game in the selection or training, and that gives you a certain amount of inner confidence.
"When the guys go out on that pitch, it doesn't matter who they are playing against - they just have to react to what is going on and not get caught up with the occasion."