Moody out of France game with knee injury

First he was back in, then he was back out again. Lewis Moody, gung-ho flanker and England captain in absentia, had high hopes of reclaiming his place in the red-rose back row in this weekend's eagerly-awaited Six Nations game with France at Twickenham, despite playing fast and loose with his troublesome right knee by returning to action at least a week ahead of schedule. But yesterday's news from the camp was grim: Moody suffered a reaction after training and is now fighting to regain full fitness in time for the Calcutta Cup meeting with Scotland on 13 March.

There was no confirmation of all this from the Trappists in the England management, but there again, there were no denials either. The silence was partly explained by Martin Johnson's new-found enthusiasm for late team announcements – the manager rather likes the idea of keeping opponents in the dark for as long as possible – and, perhaps, by a touch of embarrassment over the whole Moody saga. The France date was always tight, given the nature of the ligament damage suffered in mid-January, yet Moody was recalled to the Six Nations squad on the back of 23 minutes of Premiership activity last weekend, throughout which his knee was heavily strapped.

Johnson will not lose too much sleep over keeping together the current back row of Tom Wood, James Haskell and Nick Easter, all of whom caught the eye at one time or another over the opening two rounds of the championship. But he prizes Moody's leadership skills, not to mention the energy he brings to the England mix. It now seems likely that the only change to the starting line-up that swamped Italy 12 days ago will be at loose-head prop, where the Lions Test front-rower Andrew Sheridan is back in commission after a brief injury lay-off.

There was rather more chopping and changing in Celtic regions, where both the Scots and the Irish remodelled their teams ahead of their meeting at Murrayfield on Sunday. Andy Robinson, the Scotland coach, had little choice in the matter: fitness issues over two full-backs, Hugo Southwell and Rory Lamont, plus the new centre Joe Ansbro guaranteed a new look to the back division, but there have also been changes at half-back, as well as in all three rows of the pack.

Chris Paterson, the most decorated player in Scottish rugby history, returns as the last line of defence, while Sean Lamont comes into midfield alongside the repositioned Nick de Luca. A new half-back partnership will be introduced – the 23-year-old stand-off Ruaridh Jackson will make his first start alongside the vastly more experienced Mike Blair, who toured South Africa with the Lions in 2009. Up front, the prop Moray Low replaces Euan Murray, whose religious convictions prevent him playing on a Sunday, while Richie Gray returns to the second row. In the back row, the so-called "killer Bs" are reunited. Kelly Brown, John Barclay and Johnnie Beattie were as hot as hell a year ago. Can they generate the same kind of temperature now Beattie is fit again?

"We've had an honesty session," said Robinson, still spitting tacks at the limp nature of his side's home defeat by Wales last time out. "It's important to me that we express how we feel. If anyone has an issue, it needs to be voiced. We've been punished for the errors we've made, but we perform under pressure and we have to keep going for it. We know Ireland are a huge threat – our beating them in Dublin last year will give them added drive. But this is about the here, the now and our performance."

For their part, Ireland have turned to two Test Lions of their own – the wing Tommy Bowe and the stand-off Ronan O'Gara – as they seek another of their regular Murrayfield triumphs. There is also a change at half-back, where Eoin Reddan replaces the stricken Tomas O'Leary.

On the club front, Wasps announced the signings of two outside-halves: Nicky Robinson from Gloucester and Ryan Davis of Exeter. They will begin two-year stints at Adams Park in the summer, filling the gap left by David Walder, who plans to play overseas after five years with the Londoners.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'