Bath 38-8 Northampton Saints, Aviva Premiership, February 19
Meehan tips Moody to face French
ESPNscrum Staff
February 19, 2011
Bath's Matt Banahan talks to ESPN

Bath head coach Steve Meehan believes that Lewis Moody is ready to lead England in next weekend's Six Nations clash with France after watching the flanker make a successful return from injury in Saturday's Aviva Premiership clash with Northampton Saints.

Moody played the final 22 minutes of the game at the Recreation Ground, playing his part in a resounding 38-8 victory for the home side, and Meehan suspects an immediate international recall is now on the cards for the England skipper.

"Martin Johnson hinted at it in the week when he said that guys who have been around for 10 years with 70 caps (like Moody) have credits in the bank," he said. "If he is fit enough, and as captain, I wouldn't be surprised if he ran out against France."

While Moody's comeback was noteworthy, it was Matt Banahan who stole the show at the Rec, the winger scoring three awesome tries and creating another for Matt Carraro with an audacious reverse pass. Unsurprisingly, Meehan feels that Banahan should also feature from the start for England in the crunch Championship clash with France at Twickenham.

"He certainly sent a message to the England coaches," he said of Banahan's sensational display. "They should be confident of starting him. Today was a good illustration of what he is about."

Banahan, though, was reluctant to take all of the plaudits for a stirring victory for the home side, preferring instead to heap praise upon the Bath pack.

"I thought some of the forwards were outstanding - they really put the hard yards in," he said. "Rugby is a game you are always learning about, and it is about giving myself the best opportunity in a game."

Addressing his chances of starting against Les Bleus, Banahan stated: "All you can do is knock hard on the door. England are playing really well."

Meanwhile, Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder offered no excuses for his side's dismal showing, admitting that Bath were good value for their bonus-point win.

Saints boss Jim Mallinder reacts to his side's latest loss

"If you let Bath get on the front foot, they've got a really good offloading game, and when Matt Banahan has a game like that, they are very difficult to stop," he said. "We were all at sea. The players know they played badly. They have come off second best after a bad day at the office."

Meanwhile, Scotland centre Joe Ansbro was forced off 14 minutes into the second half after taking a blow to the head in a collision with Bath fly-half Butch James. Ansbro appeared concussed but Mallinder refused to be draw on Ansbro's condition, merely commenting, "He is a little bit groggy."

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