- The focus is drawn back to domestic rugby action after the six-week rugby party that England hosted
- Lewis Moody looks ahead to next season
- Catch up on all of our blogs at www.atheart.lv.com/sport
Lewis begins, "There's obviously a new generation coming through and then there's a slightly more experienced breed that are filtering through due to the World Cup, and a lot of clubs have picked players up off the back of that.
Certainly at Leicester, my old club, there's a young man coming in called Brendan O'Connor who has plied his trade for Hawke's Bay and the Blues and has been on scintillating form in a position where they've lost Julian Salvi, and he’s also English qualified. I think he'll be a very exciting one to watch and I'll be keen to see how his progress goes."
Sticking with his Tigers roots, Moody continues, "There's also another young man, you've got to mention him because he's still a schoolboy - Ben White, who played his first league game for Leicester recently; overtaking Ben Youngs as the youngest ever Leicester Tiger. If history is anything to go by, you look at guys who have broken that age record at Leicester - Paul Dodge, Martin Johnson, Ollie Smith, Harry Ellis, and Ben Youngs - they've all gone on to do remarkable things within the game in one way or another so I'm hoping for big things from Ben!"
With little room for error at the top level, what do young players like Ben White need to do to impress the coaches and prove that they have what it takes? Moody replies, "It's just attitude. Certainly when Harry (Ellis) and Ben (Youngs) came through you saw that in abundance, they were just so committed and determined. Scrum-halves tend to have that in-built confidence and leadership to talk people around the park. I think, certainly at a club like Leicester and many more besides, coaches are starting to look at attitude as the key fundamental."
One player that LV= Cup fans will be familiar with is former LV= Breakthrough Player Award nominee Tom Heathcote. The former University of Bath student swapped playing at the Rec for Edinburgh, but has now landed at newly promoted Worcester Warriors. He had a stunning start to the domestic season and Moody sees him playing a key role. He says, "What I like about Tom is that I've seen him go through some real adversity. It was three years ago that Scotland capped him when Andy Robinson was in charge. He was a bright young thing coming through at the Bath academy, he played a handful of senior games but then double injuries curtailed his time there and thankfully he's clearly got the mental resilience to deal with that. That's what always impresses me. You look at the guys that have come back in the likes of Schalk Burger and David Pocock - to deal with injuries is very difficult. To have the ability to come back as has been the case with Tom, I think that mental resilience will see him perform very well. I'll be watching him with a keen eye this year."
Alongside the younger players, this season has seen some iconic players from world rugby also join the ranks of English clubs.
Who has turned Lewis Moody's head? He says, "You've got Jean de Villiers and Victor Matfield, two of the South African contingent.
With Matfield, who’s been picked up by Northampton Saints, goodness knows he retired about five years ago, he must be about 95 now!
Jean de Villiers has been picked up by Leicester, where he could have a really pivotal role in what is a young Leicester squad.
George Smith who I had an untold number of run-ins with over the years with England v Australia, is still plying his trade and will be featuring for Wasps this year.
Finally Jamie Roberts, who will be coming to Harlequins.
It'll be fascinating to see how they all get involved. Can the older generation really have a big impact? “We saw Brad Thorn come to Leicester in this last year as the older statesman and he filled a role."
Given the contracted nature of the domestic season for 2015/16, there is very little room to draw breath. The consensus seems to be that the squads that have the most depth and who can maintain the least injuries will succeed.
What opportunities then for the younger players we saw shine last year, the likes of Alex Lozowski, Ellis Jenkins, Thomas Young and the LV= Breakthrough Player Award winner Tom Collins? Lewis Moody thinks there could be chances to make a positive impact.
Moody says, "The clubs are playing on consecutive weekends well into next year so squad rotations are going to be absolutely key. That's why we see an influx of those older guys that can fill a role but they know they are probably not going to play thirty games a season, they will hope to play about fifteen. I think for the younger players it may be an easier year because you've actually got the guidance of those older guys around you. You've got the added impetus that those guys are there so you want to make sure that you make your mark, you're not going to have any easy games. I think for the young guys, all those added incentives help to make you perform better."
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