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Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010

Moody to captain England as Deacon replaces Borthwick

RBS SIX NATIONS: France v England
Venue: Stade de France, Paris Date: Saturday, 20 March Kick-off: 1945 GMT
Coverage: Watch on BBC One, BBC HD channel, Red Button and BBC Sport website; full commentary on BBC Radio 5 live


England are underdogs - Moody

Leicester flanker Lewis Moody will captain England against France in Saturday's RBS Six Nations clash after Steve Borthwick lost his fitness race.

Borthwick has not recovered from a knee injury and his place goes to Leicester's Louis Deacon, who will join Simon Shaw in the second row.

Stade Francais lock Tom Palmer, who has trained with the team all week, comes onto the replacements' bench.

His injury brings to an end Borthwick's run of 20 consecutive Tests as captain.

The Saracens lock aggravated a long-standing "wear and tear" problem in his left knee during England's 15-15 draw with Scotland last Saturday.


Moody's elevation to the captaincy for the first time comes a week after he was dropped for the Murrayfield fixture, before a recall to the back row earlier this week.

"Lewis is an inspirational figure in the group and he will bring us that energy and dynamism," said manager Martin Johnson.

"There is a core group of leaders and we could have chosen two or three guys. [Centre] Mike Tindall has just come back as a senior player and Nick Easter is a leader at number eight."

Moody, who has limited captaincy experience with Leicester, said: "Without doubt it will be the proudest moment in my England career.

"To be asked under whatever circumstance to captain your country is a huge honour. What a day, it will be amazing."

The 31-year-old added the captaincy would not change the way he plays or make him more vocal on the pitch.

"I have been part of this squad for a long time and you have a role as part of the leadership team to voice your opinion when needed.

"If you play the game long enough you hope you can make the right decisions in those key situations.

"If you play long enough to get a feel for things and I have experienced players around me like Nick Easter and Mike Tindall."

Palmer, who joins the replacements, was preferred to Courtney Lawes - who has returned to Northampton to play for his club in the LV=Cup final against Gloucester on Sunday, for his line-out ability.

The absence of Borthwick means England's starting side now shows six changes in personnel - two enforced by injury - from the one that lined up at Murrayfield.

London Irish open-side flanker Steffon Armitage will also travel to Paris as cover for the back row, with Johnson stressing that it was a precautionary move because of a number of "niggling injuries".

The RFU has not confirmed the exact nature of Borthwick's injury and it will now be next week before the severity the problem is fully assessed.

"It is one of those things which could be a long-term thing or it could be over very quickly," said Johnson. "It is frustrating for him."

Meanwhile Jonny Wilkinson has been reflecting on his demotion to the England bench, with Toby Flood preferred to the Toulon fly-half.

"I feel I am short in terms finding the instinct again," said Wilkinson. "I have to try to get those habits back. At the moment it is a real challenge to go out there and consider more things than I used to.

"I'm giving everything I can. I know I am trying the right things but I have to refine and reassess. I know I'm not playing the way I want to, but I know I can get there and I desire nothing more than to get there.

"I don't want to be playing for England if I'm not doing as good a job as someone else - if I'm not right to be there.

"I am going to go back to Toulon to search for more from myself, search for better and work harder.

"I will keep doing that until the day I finish and by doing that and searching for my best, I hope England will continue to be a part of my life down the road, until the last day."

England team: Ben Foden (Northampton); Mark Cueto (Sale), Mike Tindall (Gloucester), Riki Flutey (Brive), Chris Ashton (Northampton); Toby Flood (Leicester), Danny Care (Harlequins); Tim Payne (Wasps), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Dan Cole (Leicester), Simon Shaw (Wasps), Louis Deacon (Leicester), Joe Worsley (Wasps), Lewis Moody (Leicester, captain), Nick Easter (Harlequins).
Replacements: Steve Thompson (Brive), David Wilson (Bath), Tom Palmer (Stade Francais), James Haskell (Stade Francais), Ben Youngs (Leicester), Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon), Mathew Tait (Sale).

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see also
England drop Wilkinson for Flood
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Poitrenaud accepts favourites tag
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Bastareaud returns to France team
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Johnson rues lack of cutting edge
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Scotland 15-15 England
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Saxons coach backs Saints stars
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Ashton & Hape earn England calls
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Ashton signs new Northampton deal
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