England captain out of World Cup opener

Martin Johnson suffers a setback as captain Lewis Moody is ruled out of England's first World Cup match with Argentina.

    Martin Johnson is positive despite losing his captain days before England's first World Cup game [GALLO/GETTY] 

    England captain Lewis Moody won't play in his team's opening Rugby World Cup match against Argentina on Saturday after failing to recover sufficiently from a knee injury.

    Moody first injured his right knee in January playing for English side Bath, which ruled him out of England's Six Nations title-winning campaign.

    He then suffered medial ligament damage in England's warm-up victory over Wales on August 6.

    The 33-year-old openside had been due to make a full return to training in Dunedin on Monday but England manager Martin Johnson said he made an early decision to rule Moody out of the match on the advice of team medical officials.

    "He is not quite ready to go today," Johnson said.

    "We are very happy with the other guys so it is a very simple decision to hold him back another week"

    England coach Martin Johnson

    "We hoped he would be fit to start training but he is not quite there. The medics and the fitness guys take him through a progression of training and we hoped it would all be ready to go today but he is just a little bit short."

    Johnson will confirm his line-up to face Argentina on Thursday.

    James Haskell is the obvious choice to replace Moody, having done so for the whole of the Six Nations. Haskell had an injury scare before England's final warm-up win over Ireland but a scan showed a foot injury to be just mild inflammation to a tendon.

    Johnson said Moody should be fit to play a role in the tournament.

    "We are very happy with the other guys so it is a very simple decision to hold him back another week," Johnson said.

    "It is the opening game of what hopefully is a long tournament so you can force these things sometimes and that can go either way."

    World Cup-winner Mike Tindall is likely to stand in as captain, having led the side in the Six Nations and two of three warm-ups.

    SOURCE: AP


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