Sale Sharks flanker Tom Curry has done more than enough in an England jersey to warrant a starting berth at the Rugby World Cup, insists Red Rose legend Lewis Moody.
The 20-year-old started every game of the Six Nations for his country after being handed his Championship debut by Eddie Jones against Ireland in the opening round.
He was considered by many to be England’s best player throughout the campaign as they finished runners-up to Wales, with Curry making more tackles (86) than anyone else.
His performances even earned him a nomination for Player of the Championship, but Rugby World Cup winner Moody does not believe Curry will let the hype get to his head.
“Tom had his first cap a year and a half a go, nearly two years ago in Argentina, so he’s been gradually drip fed in,” said Moody, speaking at a Land Rover event where three youngsters were chosen to fly to Japan and be Land Rover mascots during Rugby World Cup 2019.
“Eddie is good with that. That’s what he did with Joe [Cokanasiga], like he did with Maro Itoje, and I don’t get the impression Tom is the sort of character that will let all the praise get to his head.
“But that’s why you need a good team of people around you because if people keep telling you how great you are and you keep getting new deals and money and trappings of that success grow sometimes it’s difficult to remain grounded.
“You need to have that really good support network around you of mates and family so the one thing I am excited about for Tom is that he is a wonderful player.
“For England, we’ve got him, we’ve got his brother Ben [Curry] who’s not even in the squad but is arguably as good, you have Sam Underhill who is coming back from injury.
“Sam and Tom will be the starting six and seven if you can get them fit and on the same pitch, with Billy Vunipola at eight, and then you have Chris Robshaw, Nathan Hughes, Zach Mercer.
“Zach has been scintillating for Bath all year but for whatever reason, even though he played well against South Africa, he’s not quite nudged his way back in for the Six Nations.
“All those guys coming into a World Cup camp pushing for positions, that’s what you want competition for places, so that all standards are driven.”
Curry formed a formidable partnership with Mark Wilson and Billy Vunipola during the Six Nations, with the victory against Italy the only game where the trio did not start together.
But while Jones appears to have stumbled across his favourite combination, Moody wants to see Bath Rugby’s Sam Underhill start alongside Curry in Japan if both players are fit.
“What you want is guys stepping up and Underhill was there or thereabouts, played New Zealand and that was the turning point,” said Moody.
“All of a sudden he was a proper international rugby player, he could really deliver and to see that was what I’d been waiting for and it was the same with Tom.
“He had some good games against Argentina, the first and the second Test were good for him, but then to get in there and show us what he can do in the Six Nations.
“That’s what you want, you want World Class players standing up, you don’t want them to just cruise through a game, don’t hide, don’t go into your shell, come out and express yourself.
“That’s what Curry and Underhill do now, they are confident and with Billy Vunipola behind them encouraging them all the way that makes me really excited.”
Moody is a Land Rover ambassador. To be in with a chance to be a Land Rover mascot at RWC2019 visit www.premiershiprugby.com/landrovercompetition