Richard Wood column: The Millers defender’s thoughts on Wayne Rooney and Kell Brook

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney

After a weekend with no Championship matches my focus this week must be on the international fixtures.

Wales again looked impressive, albeit against Moldova, and carried on their splendid form and momentum from Euro 2016. Scotland produced an emphatic victory over Malta to give them a great start to their qualifying campaign.

Gennady Golovkin and Kell Brook

Gennady Golovkin and Kell Brook

England produced a last-gasp win, but I was disappointed with what I saw. With a new manager in charge for the first time, I expected a high-tempo, strong and determined display from the Three Lions, but in reality it was no different to what I witnessed in the Euros.

I don’t understand Sam Allardyce’s comments in his post-match interview. To say that he cannot control where Wayne Rooney plays is a very strange comment to make. For me, the manager picks the team, formation and tactics and tells you where to play. If you are told to play a certain way, you do. Players shouldn’t play where they want. This is an issue that needs addressing for future games.

Marcus Rashford should also be given a chance, and his hat-trick for the under-21s in mid-week will certainly give the manager food for thought. He is direct, has blistering pace and appears to have no fear - attributes that England are crying out for at the moment.

Tomorrow sees the Millers in action at home to Bristol City and also local boxer Kell Brook fighting Gennady Golovkin for the world middleweight title. I hope Brook walks away victorious in the O2 Arena tomorrow night.

I have tremendous admiration for boxers. They have to be extremely dedicated to the sport and train very hard to be at the top of their game. The fitness levels of these guys is astonishing.

Back when I was playing for Sheffield Wednesday, the manager at the time, Brian Laws, was able to get Johnny Nelson to come into the training ground to work on our fitness as a variation to football training. Nelson is a former professional boxer who was the WBO cruiserweight champion for more than seven years.

He came in and spoke to us at first about his career and the psychological side of sport, which was very interesting, but it was the physical element I couldn’t get my head round. The squad had a few sessions with him and his trainer over the following weeks, and I can’t tell you how difficult it was.

We’d all take it in turns to have a go sparring with him. At the training ground, you would go into the made-up ring with him for about a minute and he effectively acted as a moving punch-bag. He asked us to hit him in the torso as hard as we could while he moved around.

To maintain the strength in our punches while moving and also avoiding the odd hook he threw was incredibly tiring and my legs felt like jelly after a few one-minute rounds. I was struggling to last the full minute and by the end I think my punches were just tapping him!

We all had a go at this and he just took the blows to his body with no pads on.

I couldn’t believe it.

It was like punching a brick wall.

All the lads were shattered from the boxing but he was enjoying every minute and didn’t look in any pain at all.

After enduring these sparring sessions with a former boxing champion, I now have the upmost respect and admiration for these athletes and watch boxing in a whole new light.