England stars could suffer burn-out if RFU book autumn Test with New Zealand, warns Lewis Moody

Evening Standard
England players react at the final whistle after the Six Nations defeat to Ireland: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images
England players react at the final whistle after the Six Nations defeat to Ireland: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Lewis Moody has warned that organising an autumn showdown with the All Blacks could backfire on the RFU.

England’s players are expected to feature heavily on this summer’s three-Test, 10-match Lions tour and the RFU have already set up Tests with Argentina (November 11), Australia (November 18) and Samoa (November 25).

Their plans to stage a clash with the Kiwis on November 4 has run in to opposition and former England captain Moody, who played two Lions Tests against the All Blacks in 2005, said: “I remember coming back from the tour feeling drained both physically and mentally.

“I got an injury early at the start of the season and that hampered my build-up to the November games.

“The Lions is the most demanding thing I ever did in my rugby career because there was no break.

“Being away and constantly under the spotlight means this year’s tour party will need a rest when they get back and the RFU have to be very careful they don’t arrange the All Blacks game and it becomes a nothing fixture because the players are either burned out or injured. Then the result becomes irrelevant.”

Moody, who won 71 England caps and managed just one win in seven Tests against the All Blacks, added: “Player welfare comes into this and I don’t think England need to be playing New Zealand at this point of their development under Eddie Jones.

“Why is there this need to prove how great you are now? Everyone seems to want know how good England really are and I get that but not at the expense of cramming in another game on top of an incredibly busy Lions year.”

England coach Eddie Jones has already started discussing how much rugby his senior players will face going into summer and those who don’t make the Lions tour could be excused the trip to Argentina.

Jones said: “There are a couple of players I have already had discussions with about if they don’t make the Lions whether it’s in their interest to have a longer off season.

“It’ll be a case-by-case basis and one of the things that keeps coming back is everyone wants to play for England, no one wants to give up their shirt so we’ll balance that out.”

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