Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Moody expected to face All Blacks

Lewis Moody

Martin Johnson expects England captain Lewis Moody to be fit for the opening Investec International against New Zealand at Twickenham on November 6.

Moody initially feared he would lose the sight in his left eye after damaging the socket in Bath's Aviva Premiership defeat to Gloucester on October 1 but the damage was later diagnosed as severe bruising and the anticipated four-week recovery period left Moody's hopes of leading England against the All Blacks in the balance.

But England team manager Johnson said: "Lewis is pretty good. I don't know if he will play this week, it's touch and go - but he will possibly play the week after. We anticipate him being fit for rugby (in time for the New Zealand game)."

Moody left Leicester for Bath in the summer after 14 seasons at Welford Road and he is anxious to be involved at the weekend.

"Hopefully I will be fit as I will be very frustrated if I miss that one," Moody said.

Johnson stopped short of confirming Moody would retain the captaincy if fit - but it would be a shock if he did not.

England have progressed well since Moody took over the captaincy from Steve Borthwick at the end of last season's Six Nations championship.

Johnson's men were narrowly beaten in Paris by Grand Slam champions France, despite being the better side on the day, and they then bounced back from a disappointing defeat to Australia in Perth to level the series with a 21-20 victory in Sydney.

Chris Ashton, Courtney Lawes, Dan Cole and Ben Youngs all starred at the Olympic Stadium that night - four players who have broken into the England team in the last 12 months.

"What is coming together more than ever is the team thing," said Johnson. "They have been through some tough losses - a two-point defeat to the Grand Slam champions, and Perth was disappointing because we didn't play as well as we can for the whole game. The Sydney win came out of those times. We will have bumps on the road but that strength of spirit is coming now."

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