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Lewis Moody: England should be proud of being confident

Published 04/02/2016

Eddie Jones, pictured, has been praised for telling England to embrace being branded arrogant by their RBS 6 Nations opponents
Eddie Jones, pictured, has been praised for telling England to embrace being branded arrogant by their RBS 6 Nations opponents

Many's the Murrayfield maelstrom where age-old brickbats have brought England to their knees.

Scotland spun their underdog status into 'arrogant England' to perfection in the 13-7 Grand Slam-decider victory of 1990.

But no more, not under Eddie Jones' new era of splendid isolation. Not in England's RBS 6 Nations opener in Scotland this Saturday. Not at least, according to former England captain Lewis Moody.

The imperial guilt that has for so long proved England's rugby Achilles heel was this week absolved, improbably enough by an Australian.

The rugby world knows to brand an Englishman arrogant is to push his very buttons.

England's shrewd new head coach Jones has told his players to brush aside the allegations, and strut on, confident and cocksure.

Moody, the former Leicester and Bath flanker nicknamed 'Mad Dog', admitted to loving every minute as Jones neutered much of his rivals' ammunition.

"All the other nations use that against us, the old 'arrogant' jibe," Moody told Press Association Sport.

"It's not arrogance, it's confidence in your ability.

"But somewhere along the line, we let ourselves believe what we were being told.

"Eddie Jones has told the players he doesn't care if opponents think they are arrogant, and I think that's great.

"It's right to be proud of the fact we're confident, and not to hide away from labels others put on it.

"All sports stars need belief in their own ability for success."

Former Australia and Japan coach Jones is nothing if not a career man. His global perspective has already paid huge dividend according to Moody, and he is yet to take charge of an England match.

Stuart Lancaster's tenure of tact and diplomacy is well and truly at an end.

Jones laid bare his stall by handing firebrand hooker Dylan Hartley the captaincy, blinking aside the Northampton front-rower's 54 weeks of career suspensions in the bat of an eyelid.

Former boss Lancaster's straight bat earned widespread respect. Jones is happy to use his new broom to whip the feet out from under his foes when it comes to pre-match rhetoric.

Jones has already accepted he will indulge in mind games if it helps hand his side an edge.

Again, Moody approves.

"Warren Gatland has played mind games for years as coach of Wales and that's hardly proved detrimental," said 2003 World Cup-winner Moody.

"I can't wait to see what impact Eddie Jones' style will have on England.

"I certainly like what I've seen from him so far."

While even Jones admitted he hopes new captain Hartley can toe the disciplinary line, the gritty hooker's accession to the armband could help Chris Robshaw past his World Cup heartbreak.

England's World Cup captain is back among the rank and file, and expected to feature in a fresh role. Lancaster tasked Robshaw with the fetcher-forager openside flanking role, while Jones has handed the Harlequin the more battling blindside duties for Saturday's clash with Scotland.

Moody, who won 71 caps on England's back-row, believes the positional shift could offer Robshaw an entirely new lease of Test-match life.

"Chris Robshaw has tried to fit into a role that was needed at seven, and that was what was required of him at the time," said Moody, speaking as a Land Rover ambassador.

"But his preferred position perhaps always was as a six.

"The captaincy's not a burden for him any more, he can just go out and play without worrying on anything. The release of that burden has really seen him put in some outstanding performances for Harlequins.

"There's a lot of talk about him starting at six and you couldn't really argue against it. It could be a new start for him in many ways."

:: Lewis Moody is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover is a partner of HITZ, the sport for change programme, and will be supporting the annual HITZ awards on February 4. @LandRover_UK #WeDealInReal

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