Sport Rugby

Friday 17 November 2017

Moody still blue over England's World Cup disaster

Ian Chadband

Lewis Moody says he is still beating himself up over England's World Cup failure, the things he, as captain, could and should have done differently.

"Even now my mind is desperate to be able to take this team through to the next World Cup," he concedes. "But unfortunately my body is no longer willing."

A month has passed since the end of England's calamitous adventure in New Zealand and Moody, still coming to terms with the end of his international career, is smiling, is upbeat about the team's future, which, he says, he would love to see being led as new captain by his former Leicester colleague Tom Croft.

He holds his hand up to his own leadership failings on the trip which he calls a "disaster," but is adamant the team which came home, bundled ignominiously through a side door of Heathrow, must and will become a "great team," one that could win the next edition under Martin Johnson.

Old 'Mad Dog' remains fiercely protective of his team-mates as you try to drag him back to recounting the woes of the New Zealand trip.

Moody, though, is also refreshingly honest in his new book 'Mad Dog -- an Englishman', talking about the off-field woes, which he accepts "took their toll" on England's performances.

Even when a publicist interrupts, trying to block another question about the off-field shenanigans, he still insists on fronting up. About that infamous night in Dunedin's Altitude bar, he scolds himself for leaving just when he sensed there might be boozy problems brewing. "Part of you wishes you had stayed, that you had put the arms around the guys and taken them home. But there were only a handful of guys left there when I left. It is what it is; you can't change the past."

In his book, Moody offers what sounds a fairly damning indictment of some members of the squad.

"A lot of the guys were young, well-known, wealthy and believed they were invincible. I remember thinking that some were not in the right mindset," he writes. "I just felt at the start of the campaign, some people's minds weren't quite in the right place. I'm not talking about the whole squad; the vast majority were really hungry and absolutely ready for it."

But had the youngsters taken on board the lessons? What about Chris Ashton saying in an interview that apart from getting knocked out in the quarter-finals, he felt he had nothing to regret on the tour, even as one of the three players who ended up apologising for their behaviour towards a hotel chambermaid?

"My opinion is that it's very important that, as an individual, you put your hand up and say 'this is where I could have done better.'"

So, how would Moody want his international career to be remembered? After a pause, he responds: "I'd like to think people believe I gave absolutely everything I could for my country and the team that I was playing for."

Nobody could ever doubt that about him. He just wants a nation not to doubt it, too, about the men he still stands by so resolutely. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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