English rugby
Johnson refuses to end Borthwick's captaincy hopes
August 11, 2010

Steve Borthwick's England career as captain is certainly not finished, according to Martin Johnson.

The England manager has refused to confirm that Lewis Moody will be his captain until the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

Borthwick was Johnson's skipper for the first 20 Tests of the manager's tenure but missed the summer tour of Australia before being dropped from the senior 32-man squad. Moody took over the armband and became only the second captain, after Johnson in 2003, to lead England to a Test match victory over the Wallabies on Australian soil. But Johnson admitted today in a pre-season get together at Twickenham that Borthwick had not received the treatment he deserved.

"I will not commit to [Moody being captain until the World Cup]," Johnson said. "It is very competitive. The great thing about this camp is we have got the senior 32, which was a tough call, but also the guys who did not make it have all come back. There is big pressure on guys. Anyone who thinks they are comfortable in the England 32 won't be there for very long.

"Guys are wondering how they are going to get in. It is very competitive and the best squad we have ever had. It doesn't get any tougher [than the conversation I had with Borthwick].

"You like to think people get what they deserve and he didn't get what he deserved. We had the conversation and Steve instantly said: 'I'll prove you wrong'. That is exactly what you want. He hasn't whined about it, he hasn't moaned about it."

The Saracens lock has slipped from being England's captain to outside the top four second-row options. Gloucester's Dave Attwood took his chance with some impressive midweek performances on the England tour, while Courtney Lawes and Tom Palmer both excelled in the Test victory in Sydney.

"I said to the guys we are treating the whole group as a squad. It is not Saxons and seniors," he said. "If you are playing better than the number one guy then there is never a time when you haven't found yourself in the England team. Steve knows that and he is keen to get cracking."

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