Bath buoyed by Lewis Moody return

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The Independent Online

Bath boss Steve Meehan is relishing England captain Lewis Moody's return to rugby this weekend.

Moody is set to feature in Bath's Aviva Premiership appointment with Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday - just six days before England launch their autumn Test series across the A316 against New Zealand.

Flanker Moody, who is a strong favourite to retain England leadership duties against the All Blacks, has not played since suffering an eye injury during Bath's home defeat to Gloucester four weeks ago.

The 32-year-old has been released back to his club by England manager Martin Johnson for some all-important game time.

"He is ready to return, no doubt about that," said Meehan.

"We were just faced with a freak injury. The plus side is he has made a complete recovery, is training well and looking forward to playing.

"Everyone is aware of the risks that players take each and every time, not just at this level but any level, whenever they take the field.

"To play Premiership and international rugby on a consistent basis does take some courage."

Moody will feature in a Bath side that needs to rediscover its winning ways in the Premiership before a break for two rounds of LV= Cup action.

They have lost three of their last four league games - against Northampton, Gloucester and latterly Leicester - slipping outside the Premiership's top five as a consequence.

"This is a very important fixture for us," acknowledged Meehan.

"To try and put your finger on what team will actually play is quite difficult because they (Quins) have chopped and changed their team quite a lot over the last four games.

"Which XV we're going to play against is a bit of a mystery, but their style of play won't change that much.

"The (scrum-half) replacement for (Danny) Care is of a similar style of player, similar sort of profile, and if Tom Guest comes in for (Nick) Easter, he's a very good lineout player, very athletic around the park and a very good handler of the ball.

"Having said that, Easter and Care have been very important to them."

Elsewhere on Sunday, Wasps will aim to bounce back from their 37-10 home drubbing against Northampton last time out when they visit bottom club Leeds Carnegie, while leaders London Irish host Sale Sharks.

Tomorrow, Gavin Henson's new club Saracens entertain Exeter and Northampton have home advantage against Newcastle, knowing a draw or win would take them top of the league, at least for 24 hours.