Lewis Moody: Eddie Jones must appoint Joe Launchbury as England captain
Red Rose legend Lewis Moody runs rule over England's next captain
Eddie Jones officially starts his job as England head coach on Tuesday and his first order of business should be to give Joe Launchbury the captaincy – according to Lewis Moody.
Launchbury was one of the few Red Rose stars to emerge with any credit following England’s disastrous pool stage exit at this autumn’s World Cup.
He’s a wonderful player and when he comes on he makes a difference. That’s what you need
At the age of only 24 – and with only 28 Test caps to his name – some might think it is too soon to be thrusting international captaincy upon Launchbury.
But question marks over Chris Robshaw’s place in the squad moving forward, the Wasps lock is one of the few England stars guaranteed to be in the starting XV when fit.
And Moody – who won the World Cup in 2003 and captained England in 2011 – thinks giving Launchbury the captaincy at a young age would replicate the All Black policy taken with Richie McCaw.
McCaw was only 25 when he became All Black skipper back in 2006 and Moody is confident that the appointment of Launchbury would allow the second row space to learn on the job.
“Joe’s a young, exciting talent,” said Moody, who was helping to kick off NatWest RugbyForce 2016 – a new initiative supporting grassroots clubs, spending the afternoon with Market Harborough RUFC, taking part in a training session and showcasing how the nationwide initiative helps clubs.
“He didn’t play as much as he would have liked during the World Cup because he was coming back from injury but he’s clearly got a cool head on his shoulders.
“He’s a wonderful player and when he comes on he makes a difference. That’s what you need, you have to say that your captain makes a difference in your team.
“Maybe we’ve been missing a bit of that in the forwards. And if you appoint someone at a young stage, you give them the opportunity to learn the trade.
“It’s something, at international level, you have to keep developing as a captain. Richie McCaw is a great example of that.
“It will come down to someone the coaches and players respect. It certainly needs to be someone that is delivering on the pitch week in, week out and is probably the first name on the team sheet.”
While Launchbury is the appointment favoured by Moody, it would appear that Robshaw’s chances of retaining the role are over.
Jones has already publicly stated this year that he was not sure of Robshaw’s ability as a true openside flanker – and Moody is inclined to agree that the Quins man’s international career may be at an end.
“I think Chris is an interesting position in his career,” added Moody.
“When he took on the reins as captain there were certainly questions of whether he was an out and out international back rower, whether he was up to that level. And credit to him, he has worked incredibly hard to be as good as he has been.
“He’s played some outstanding matches for England. He’s learned as he’s gone along the way as a captain.
“I think ultimately Eddie Jones has been quite vocal about the fact he wouldn’t be his captain so I think it’s safe to say he won’t be captain going forward.
“He’s also been very vocal about the fact he’s not a seven, so I think it’s unlikely we’ll see him at seven, but then it’s a question of whether he fits within the squad.
“I think it would be very harsh on him to be dropped completely but the coach’s prerogative is to be ruthless, they need to win games so if Eddie doesn’t see him within that set-up, that’s the way it is. “But I think you have to take your hat off to Chris. He’s done incredibly well during the time he’s had and made the most of the time he’s had.”
Also high on Jones’ to-do list when taking office is appointing a back-room staff, with the likes of Steve Borthwick – who worked with Jones at Japan – and Saracens’ Alex Sanderson heavily linked with roles.
And while Moody is not sure who will get the chance – he is adamant that there must be an English flavour to the Aussie’s coaching panel but not from the current crop of Graham Rowntree, Andy Farrell and Mike Catt.
“The first thing Eddie will have to do is have a conversation with the current coaches, decide where there future lies. I imagine he’ll bring in a new coaching environment,” he added.
“I think he’ll look at Steve Borthwick, someone he’s worked with before. Obviously Steve, having been an England player and captain before, and I know the detail he went into when it came to lineout detail and preparation.
“Having an Englishman involved in the set-up is very important, I think for the first time England have looked outside the box and got in a foreign coach, although the language barrier between Australian and English probably isn’t too vast! I think having someone like Steve Borthwick will be very important.”
NatWest RugbyForce supports grassroots clubs by providing those who enter with the opportunity to attend free workshops, receive financial support and mentoring from key England Rugby figures – register by visiting www.englandrugby.com/natwestrugbyforce