England World Cup captain Moody gets sprint tips from golden guru Campbell

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England rugby captain Lewis Moody is fine-tuning his preparations for the World Cup by honing his sprinting skills with British Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell.

The 33-year-old is anxious to make up for lost time after a season frustrated by injury and, with the World Cup kicking off in New Zealand in 11 weeks’ time, has been undergoing sprint drills at Bath University’s indoor track.

Runaway success: Moody improving his sprinting skills under the eye of Olympic gold medallist Campbell
Explosive: Moody showing more pace

The sessions are being supervised by 37-year-old Campbell who, in 2004, added an Olympic sprint relay gold medal to the 200m silver he had won at Sydney four years earlier.

Moody, who will be in Martin Johnson’s World Cup training squad of 44 when it is announced tomorrow, admits that the medial knee ligament injuries which ruled him out of this year’s Six Nations Championship had left him feeling ‘sluggish’.

‘If I feel quick, I am quick, and it makes a huge difference to my game, in which speed has always played a major part,’ said the Bath flanker.

‘Before hooking up with Darren, I felt sluggish. Maybe working on my speed had been put on the back burner while I focused on returning to fitness and then playing for the last three games of the season with Bath. Now I’m feeling more confident in my running and more explosive from the first step, too.

‘I feel much better. During the three-day England mini-camp at Twickenham recently, I noticed far more spring in my step when running and greater speed from the off, which is what this is all about.’

Campbell, whose skill as a speed coach has already been employed by football’s Chelsea and Stoke City as well as rugby stars Mark Cueto, Mathew Tait and Richard Wigglesworth, is delighted with his pupil.

‘Lewis has what all top sports people possess, and that’s the ability to learn quickly,’ said Campbell. ‘He’s a natural athlete.’

The need for speed: Darren Campbell is a speed coach with a growing clientele

In fact, athletics vied with rugby as Moody’s first sporting love at school.

‘I was a good all-rounder – sprinting, 400metres, long jump, high jump, you name it,’ he said.

‘I would have loved to have become a decathlete if I hadn’t decided on rugby. I always watch the Olympics and all the big athletics events on TV, so it’s a real thrill to be working with someone like Darren. Mark Cueto recommended him and I’ve noticed a big difference already in just four 90-minute sessions.’

Campbell had to do his homework before devising a training schedule to suit the demands of Moody’s role on the pitch.

‘Lewis is all about clearing out the ruck, pinching the ball and, if he can, making short, explosive runs from the back of the scrum,’ said Campbell.

‘That’s why the training is geared towards this as opposed to what I do with Mark, who is required on the wing to make longer runs. Lewis has all the attributes but, like every other rugby player, he’s not been coached how to run.

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