Johnson confirms Moody as captain
March 27, 2011
Lewis Moody led England during the November internationals © Getty Images
England manager Martin Johnson has confirmed that fitness provided Lewis Moody will captain England at this year's Rugby World Cup.
The 32-year-old missed England's successful Six Nations campaign with a knee injury allowing Mike Tindall to impress in his absence as the Gloucester centre led England to victory in their first four matches before Nick Easter took charge for the final game against Ireland.
However, Moody remained a key figure around the England camp during the tournament and Johnson, who has been reticent in making a commitment on the captaincy in the past, has indicated that the Bath flanker will lead England during the World Cup warm-up matches in the summer and into the tournament in New Zealand in September.
"We couldn't get rid of him, could we?" Johnson told the Daily Express. "Yes, if he's fit he is England captain. He's been around the team, as any experienced guy would be. Obviously any player when they're not playing will feel a little bit out of it. But it's been great to have him around for the whole group.
"Once a guy is that experienced, you know when you speak to him you're going to get the truth. He'll tell you not what you want to hear; he'll tell you what he thinks. He'll do anything to be successful, to win. He's been desperate to get back into the group. Obviously he wants to play.
"He's an outstanding player, isn't he? The whole way he conducts himself, the way he plays, the way he trains, what he is, is fantastic."
Moody took over as England from Steve Borthwick for the final game of last season's Six Nations against France before leading England on tour to Australia and then in the autumn internationals. But he twisted his medial knee ligaments in January and a series of setbacks in his recovery meant he missed the entire Six Nations with James Haskell making a positive impression on the openside.
In Moody's absence Tindall gained plaudits for the way he led the team and Johnson insists that both he and Easter will have an important leadership role to play within the squad.
"It's been tough on him," Johnson said. "To see him and Mike sat on the side of the pitch on Saturday was sad in a way. But that's the game. You feel like a spare part. Both of them have been fantastic while they've been injured. But as I said you can't be reliant on one guy. Mike's done a good job. They'll all be themselves. They won't try and be something they're not.
"Mike does it his way, Lewis does it his way, Nick - they're all different people. They're all good captains, outstanding leaders in their own right. But it's a very competitive team now to get into."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
He teed up Obolensky's try, fought in Burma and played cricket for Warwickshire - we Rewind to look at the story of Peter Cranmer
With the World Cup just a year away, Tom Hamilton picks out five matches to ensure you have tickets for
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup