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I’m back in business’ says England’s Moody

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

"I'm back in business," the 25-year-old tells Planet Rugby. "I'm fully fit and ready to join up with the England squad for training next week.

"It's been a pretty frustrating time to be on the sidelines but injuries are part and parcel of the game so you just have to get on with it."

While he is somewhat short of match practice, having last played in the Six Nations opener against France back in February when the injury occurred, the enforced break has enabled Moody to really crank up his training in preparation for the rigours of next season.

"I'm probably fitter and stronger than I've ever been," says Moody, who is likely to get an early chance to prove himself during England's warm-up Test series in August.

"But it's the match fitness I need – getting used to the knocks and the physical contact. It'll take a while, but I can't wait to get back into it."

No doubt Moody's impatience has been spurred by the massive achievements of England in recent months, the flanker watching from afar as his team-mates marched inexorably to first the Grand Slam and then those historic back-to-back wins over New Zealand and Australia.

"Of course I wish I'd been part of it when I've watched big wins on TV," he laughs. "The boys have played exceptionally well and the fact that they already have a winning team means it's going to be very, very difficult for me to break back into the World Cup squad – let alone the actual starting XV."

Such modesty – especially from a player who had made the England No.6 jersey his own before injury intervened, a string of brilliant performances shaking up the established pecking order.

Moody's breakthrough as an international player came on England's tour of North America in 2001, his pace and all-round dynamism leading to rave reviews for a player who the previous season had only started nine games for his club.

Having won over Clive Woodward with his all-action style on that tour, Moody began to feature more in the England coach's plans. But it was authoritative performances in November 2002 which really announced that a new world-class talent was on the scene.

Starting all three of those autumn internationals, Moody was the forward of the series, scoring a try in the victory against New Zealand and taking the ball forward at every opportunity in every game – until injury intervened in the last game against South Africa.

But Moody stresses that he's not being disingenuous and it really is no mere formality to repeat his feat of breaking up the celebrated back row triumvirate of Dallaglio, Back and Hill. It's going to be tough – and he wouldn't have it any other way.

"That's the name of the game – getting injured, being dropped, forcing your way back in – it's all about proving yourself," he explains. "I've been used to that process at Leicester down the years and the England scene is no different."

In the intervening period since his shoulder operation in February – in addition to plenty of physical conditioning – Moody has been keeping himself busy with some stints of pitch-side punditry for the BBC ("I'd never done it before but it was a great laugh") and more recently, has also been involved in the O2 Rugbyclass initiative which runs coaching courses for children throughout the summer.

"It's great fun to be involved with O2 Rugbyclass," says Moody. "And also very worthwhile as it gives young players a real boost to meet up with the professionals. I met England skipper Will Carling at a similar sort of event when I was a minis player and it was a really big thing."

By Justin O'Regan

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