England will name a squad for the Six Nations' Championship on 12 January to kick off a year dominated by the World Cup in New Zealand in September and October. Bookmakers rate them at odds as long as 16-1 to bring home the Webb Ellis Trophy for a second time but the captain, Lewis Moody, says: "We can definitely win it."
Moody was in the team which reached the finals of 2003 and 2007, winning one and losing one. Last month the Bath openside flanker skippered a side that lost to New Zealand and South Africa but climbed to fourth in the world rankings with a record 35-18 win over Australia. "We've certainly set ourselves in good stead coming out of the autumn," Moody tells The Independent on Sunday today in a frank interview in which he also admits he is "not as good" as the likes of All Black captain Richie McCaw in the turnover skills of a traditional No 7.
"There are other areas in my game I am good at," he says, and with Leicester's blindside flanker Tom Croft likely to miss the start of the Six Nations in six weeks' time with a shoulder injury, Moody's ability to play in more than one back-row position may come in handy. "There are always guys coming through," he says. "That pushes you as a player."
Moody will have a rest today, though, as Bath's Premiership match with Exeter is frozen off. As to the captaincy he was handed by manager Martin Johnson as Steve Borthwick's successor last March, Moody says: "If I'm asked to do it again, I'll love it as much as I have done until now. It's been an honour."
But he is "living in the moment" – to the extent that he has no idea of England's World Cup quarter-final opponents if they make it past Scotland and Argentina in their pool. It's France or New Zealand, Lewis.