Moody: Leave Robshaw out for Scotland match

Ross McLean
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Chris Robshaw has captained England in every match he has started since 2012

Time to audition England captaincy alternatives, says 2003 hero Lewis

WORLD Cup winner Lewis Moody has called for England captain Chris Robshaw to be omitted when his side bid to resurrect their Six Nations challenge against Scotland at Twickenham next week.

Robshaw has skippered England throughout Stuart Lancaster’s tenure as head coach, although the Harlequins flanker has previously been reappointed to the role on a tournament-by-tournament basis.

But after his belligerent stance in the Millennium Stadium tunnel preceded a powerhouse showing in the historic victory over Wales, the England hierarchy gave a clear hint that Robshaw will lead the Red Rose at the home World Cup later this year.

The 28-year-old has missed just three matches since Lancaster took the reins and has worn the captain’s armband in every game he has started since 2012, but Moody believes the Calcutta Cup provides the opportunity to trial an alternative.

“I would really like to see someone else play at No7,” Moody told City A.M.

“I’m not saying for a second that Chris is not going to be England’s captain going forward, I’m just saying we need to see some other options.

“If for any reason he gets injured, who steps in? Who is captain? What are the other options available?

“It would be a good option for Stuart to take in the Scotland game without undermining anyone.

“Ultimately England are going to win so give Chris a rest and give someone else the No7 shirt and let them show what they’re capable of. To captain for seven games in a World Cup through to a final is tough. Someone else will have to step up at some point.”

The inclusion of England exile Steffon Armitage continues to be a forlorn proposal given
the Rugby Football Union’s stance of dissuading selection of overseas-based players but for in undefined exceptional circumstances.

Such a policy has failed to prevent former British and Irish Lion Moody banging the Toulon flanker’s drum, while a recall for the reigning European Player of the Year is not the only back-row change advocated by the Ex-Bath and Leicester star.

“I just want to see Steffon involved, he’s such a good player,” added Moody. “Having Steffon would make guys like Chris [Robshaw] push themselves further because he offers something different.

“I would also like to see Tom Croft get a start ahead of James Haskell. I know Stuart’s regime loves big, abrasive ball-carriers but Tom would add something fresh, obviously a line-out presence and a bit of attacking play.”

Moody was a keen proponent of Bath’s Jonathan Joseph being recalled to the international fold, and his Six Nations performances have lent the former England captain to believe a place in the pantheon of great English centres awaits.

“Jonathan’s been a great find. For the last decade England have been looking for a replacement for Will Greenwood and I can’t see many people moving him,” said Moody. “He has the possibility of being an absolute great of the English midfield, not just in the coming years but historically.”

A veteran of three World Cup campaigns, including the 2003 success that followed a Six Nations grand slam, Moody believes England’s 19-9 defeat to Ireland in Dublin last weekend has cost them the title and could be a cause for future concern.

“I think the likelihood is England will finish second or third [in the Six Nations] again which is a massive disappointment in a year when they needed to take something substantial out of it,” he added.

“A team which has been together for a good length of time, which this one has, needs to prove they can win something. At the moment, when England have to deliver, sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.”

Lewis Moody was taking part in the City Index Celebrity Trader Challenge at the time of this interview to raise money for The Lewis Moody Foundation.