Moody set to captain England as World Cup preparations begin

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Mike Tindall has been in high spirits recently but the England centre is set for a comedown with the news Lewis Moody is fit to regain the England captaincy.

As Martin Johnson looks to whittle down his squad of 40 to 30, the England coach will use the upcoming games with Wales, both home and away, and Ireland to finalise his squad for the World Cup.

This is a risky strategy from the England captain as Brian Ashton came in for criticism from some quarters, including inside the camp, for not knowing his best team heading into the World Cup.

Many believe that these next three games should be used to gel the starting 15 in preparation for their opening World Cup match with Argentina.

Wales head to Twickenham on Saturday with a 39-man squad which includes both Andy Powell and Jonathan Thomas, both of whom were originally dropped from the World Cup training camp.

Wales coach Warren Gatland took 35 players to the intensive training camp in Poland but it seems his side are in a similar position to England in terms of not knowing who the best squad is.

Saturday’s friendly is likely to see strong sides put out by both teams and while there may be a few experiments in the England line-up, any experiments from Gatland are likely to come in the second half.

Moody will captain and England team likely to include the familiar faces although Manu Tuilagi could be handed a start at centre.

Flanker Sam Warburton will lead out Wales in the absence of Matthew Rees and all eyes will be on Gatland to see whether or not he hands Gavin Henson a start at centre.

Whatever the sides, there is no such thing as an international friendly in rugby union and you can expect both teams to be going all out to win on Saturday.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.