English Rugby
Moody honoured by captaincy
ESPNscrum Staff
August 23, 2011

England captain Lewis Moody has admitted that he believed his World Cup was over following a reoccurrence of his knee injury.

Moody has played fewer than five matches at any level since damaging medial ligaments in his right knee in January. However, England manager Martin Johnson decided Moody's experience as a World Cup-winner in 2003 and a runner up in 2007 was too valuable to leave behind.

"I feel incredibly honoured to lead this group of players. It's one of life's true privileges," said Moody. "It's a huge honour, that never changes, and it will be something I reflect on at the end of my career.

"Yeah (I was thinking my World Cup had gone). I was frustrated. That showed in my reaction. My target was always that first game and it still will be."

Moody's joy contrasted with Flutey who was axed because Johnson was not prepared to gamble on taking just two scrum-halves to New Zealand. As a result, Wasps' uncapped 23-year-old Joe Simpson received an unexpected call-up to join Leicester's Ben Youngs, who is on the way back from knee surgery, and Saracens' Richard Wigglesworth.

Not only would Flutey have offered a creative, kicking option at inside centre, but he could provide cover at both fly-half and scrum-half in case of emergency. Instead, England opted for three specialist scrum-halves in a squad comprising 17 forwards and 13 backs, shifting the focus of their gamble into the midfield. Wigglesworth will have to provide emergency fly-half cover should any mishap befall Jonny Wilkinson or Toby Flood.

Shontayne Hape, the former Kiwi rugby league international, travels back to New Zealand as the only recognised inside centre in England's 30-man squad. "Would I love to have Riki on the plane? Of course I would," admitted Johnson.

"It was tough on Riki, who has done nothing wrong. We just felt that was the best way to go. Utility is good but it is not the trump card. We just felt we had to go with five props and four locks because of the attrition rate and it was too big a risk to take two scrum-halves."

Leicester powerhouse Manu Tuilagi, who made a try-scoring debut against Wales at Twickenham, made the final cut along with Mike Tindall and Matt Banahan, suggesting England's midfield approach will not be subtle. Flood and Wilkinson are the only fly-halves in the squad, Mark Cueto and Chris Ashton the only recognised wings.

Johnson said he would consider using Flood and Wilkinson together, although if that was a serious option England would surely have selected Charlie Hodgson as a third fly-half. Up front, England have opted for five props - Dan Cole, Matt Stevens, Andrew Sheridan, Alex Corbisiero and David Wilson - and four locks.

Dylan Hartley, Steve Thompson and Lee Mears were confirmed as the three travelling hookers after phase one of the England's summer training camp, when George Chuter was cut from the squad.

Johnson had been considering taking only three locks and utilising Tom Croft or Nick Easter as an emergency second-row but England have decided to take four. Veteran Simon Shaw has been picked alongside Courtney Lawes, Louis Deacon and Tom Palmer, leaving only five back-row places available. Moody is joined in the back row by Easter, Croft, Tom Wood and James Haskell, leaving no room for the specialist open-side flanker Hendre Fourie.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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