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Final word on France from Moody and Johnson

07 October 2011

  • England captin Lewis Moody and Team Manager Martin Johnson on France clash
  • We must get the basics right to combat "phenomenal" French players – Moody
Martin Johnson in conversation with Lewis Moody at captain's run ahead of RWC quarter-final against France in Auckland

Photo: Getty Images

England captain Lewis Moody believes the unpredictability of France’s "phenomenal players" only heightens the importance of focussing on themselves in the Rugby World Cup quarter final on Saturday.

England head into the quarter-final clash having knocked France out of the last two tournaments and have won four of the last five matches against Les Blues.

But 2003 Rugby World Cup winner Moody, a veteran of eight matches against France, knows that getting the basics right is the first task to prevent France from producing one of their signature World Cup performances as underdogs.

The 70-cap 33-year-old said: “Predominantly, we need to focus on ourselves and our performance. That’s key for us and this week we’ve been making sure we have the right positive mindset and are ready for the manner in which we intend to play.

“We’re well aware of what France are capable of – they have some phenomenal players and, as they’ve proven in many world cups, they’re capable of some brilliant performances.

“Whether it is Grand Slam games or World Cup games, they’ve got the experience to deal with that pressure.

“We didn’t play as we wanted to last weekend and we’re all very keen to play a good style of rugby, doing what we know we’re capable of as a team, and have done in the past. But, first and foremost, it is important to get the basics right.”

England Team Manager Martin Johnson and Captain Lewis Moody during training at Carisbrook 

Photo: Getty Images

Martin Johnson accepts England cannot afford to start with the lack of intensity that affected their performance in the early stages against Scotland, but is confident that he has the game management experience on the pitch to react to any advantage or disadvantage on the scoreboard.

“We never know how it’s going to play out," England's Team Manager added. "We pick our team, we try and feel how they’ll play and what we want to do but we know we have to react on the field.

“The best plan doesn’t survive the first contact with the enemy so anything can happen and we have to deal with it mentally. If you can’t deal with it mentally, you won’t physically.

“You need that adaptability, that resilience on the field. We’ve got some good players out there to manage the game: Lewis as captain, Nick [Easter] at No.8, Jonny [Wilkinson] at 10 and Toby [Flood] at 12.

“They’re guys who’ve been in situations and we’ll need to think on our feet all through the game.”