England captain Lewis Moody has revealed he thought his dreams of appearing in a third World Cup were over when he was carried off against Wales a fortnight ago with a knee injury.
The flank - one of several players remaining from the 2003 World Cup winning squad - had played 61 minutes of England's first warm-up game at Twickenham before injuring himself and being helped off the pitch.
Moody's year had already been interrupted by another knee strain in January that saw him play just three-and-a-half games for his club Bath at the end of last season.
And his annoyance became clear at Twickenham when he was seen screaming as medical staff treated him.
But the yells were of frustration rather than pain and Moody expects to be fit for England's first game of the World Cup in New Zealand against Argentina on September 10.
"The initial frustration I had on the pitch was 'not again'," Moody told reporters at England's training base.
"Actually, in the cold light of day, it was nowhere near as bad as I initially thought and the rehab has gone really well," added the 33-year-old Moody, nicknamed 'Mad Dog' for his all-action approach.
"The brace is off now and the physios are having to hold me back which is always a good sign.
"My target was always that first [World Cup] game and it still will be.
"I'll try not to flog myself like I did last time. I actually wasn't in any pain. The picture was just me swearing. I was shouting because I was frustrated, it wasn't anything to do with the pain.
"Thankfully for me, the strapping the physios had put on the knee had done a good job and had saved it from a lot more stress."
Team manager Martin Johnson confirmed Moody as England's captain for the World Cup on Monday and added Wasps uncapped scrumhalf Joe Simpson to his 30-man squad after Danny Care was ruled out through injury.
Simpson is expected to play some role in the side's final warm-up game against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
But Moody will be an onlooker as England aim to gain some revenge for their Six Nations defeat at the hands of the Irish in March that cost them a Grand Slam.
"We know the challenge that's facing us, especially having played them in the last game of the Six Nations when myself and Mike Tindall had to sit and watch as frustrated spectators," said Moody.
He added: "It's going to be a tough game but a perfect game to get us ready for a World Cup."
Meanwhile Simpson, the immediate beneficiary of Care's injury, revealed he had been in touch with his fellow scrumhalf.
"I messaged Danny on Twitter and I am going to send him another message as well," said the 23-year-old Simpson.
"I feel gutted for him. It is horrible having any player injured and Danny is someone I have known since I was 17 - we have played together, been on the same team and we are of a similar age.
"I am sure he will recover quickly and have a very extended and glittering England career."
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