England could be heading in to the upcoming Rugby World Cup without a captain despite the news that Lewis Moody’s knee injury isn’t as bad as first feared today.
Moody limped off during England’s 23-19 win over Wales in their opening World Cup warm-up game and while the Rugby Football Union’s doctors are optimistic he will recover in time, there are reasons to believe Moody may miss the start of the tournament.
No date has been set for Moody’s return although England coach Martin Johnson was talking about Moody being fit for England’s final warm-up game with Ireland in a fortnight.
With just a month until England’s opening game with Argentina, Moody faces a real race to be fit and having suffered trouble with his knee previously, the lack of noise from the RFU suggests Moodu is a huge doubt.
The RFU may be optimistic but having Moody back for the Ireland game is extremely optimistic and should he not make that match, it means he will have played just 60 minutes of international rugby since England lost to South Africa in November 2010.
That would seem like a big risk taking a man who has struggled with his fitness for almost a year and Johnson should be looking at alternatives to lead England out in their first match with Argentina on September 10.
Having watched Manu Tuilagi impress on his debut, Mike Tindall’s place in the team is not certain, neither is Nick Easter’s who saw James Haskell score a try from the number eight position on Saturday.
These two have deputised as captain while Moody’s been injured but as they are not assured of their place in the team, Johnson has a job finding a permanent captain.
The standout candidate seems to be Tom Croft but even he isn’t assured of a place if Johnson decides to recall Easter and England have a serious problem to fix before the World Cup starts.