Six Nations - Moody loses France fitness race

Thu, 24 Feb 13:06:00 2011

Flanker Lewis Moody has lost his fitness fight and will take no part in England's Six Nations game against France at Twickenham on Saturday.

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Manager Martin Johnson named a team showing just one change as prop Andrew Sheridan, a late withdrawal from the 59-13 win over Italy, returns in place of Alex Corbisiero, who drops to the bench in place of the injured David Wilson.

Moody missed the first two games with a knee ligament injury but after a 23-minute appearance for Bath last weekend had hoped to make Saturday's match.

However, he suffered a bad reaction to the run-out and centre Mike Tindall will retain the captaincy with Moody now targeting the Twickenham game against Scotland on March 13 for his return.

Although England will miss Moody's all-action approach, the back row has looked impressive in the two games so far.

Tom Wood has looked comfortable after making his debut at blindside flanker in the opening win over Wales, Nick Easter has been dominant at number eight and openside James Haskell has shown signs of the form that marked him down as a potential future captain a couple of years ago.

Had Sheridan not been forced to pull out from the Italy match it would have been a third successive unchanged team as Johnson finally seems to have developed a settled group.

French coach Marc Lievremont has made six changes for the match being touted as an effective championship decider after both sides won their opening two matches.

France edged England 12-10 in Paris last season to complete a grand slam but they were blasted aside on their last trip to Twickenham in 2009 when England won 34-10.

Lievremont has cranked up the atmosphere by launching a scathing attack on the English this week, saying that nobody liked them and that all the other teams in the championship were willing France to beat them on Saturday.

That, though, is nothing new and England, seeking their first title since 2003, will be delighted to be back in the firing line after spending so long on the outside looking in.

There is a further sub-plot with England and France on course for a potential World Cup quarter-final meeting in New Zealand.

With England having beaten their cross-channel rivals in all three of their previous knockout meetings, another win on Saturday would add to their psychological stranglehold.

Team:

15-Ben Foden, 14-Chris Ashton, 13-Mike Tindall (captain), 12-Shontayne Hape, 11-Mark Cueto, 10-Toby Flood, 9-Ben Youngs; 8-Nick Easter, 7-James Haskell, 6-Tom Wood, 5-Tom Palmer, 4-Louis Deacon, 3-Dan Cole, 2-Dylan Hartley, 1-Andrew Sheridan.

Replacements: 16-Steve Thompson, 17-Alex Corbisiero, 18-Simon Shaw, 19-Hendre Fourie, 20-Danny Care, 21-Jonny Wilkinson, 22-Matt Banahan.

Reuters

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