Fourie puts Leeds matters ahead of rivalry with England captain

Hendre Fourie has played down the importance of his imminent head-to-head with Lewis Moody.

The battle of the two England No 7s offers a fascinating subplot to this Saturday's crucial Aviva Premiership contest at The Rec.

England captain Moody is Martin Johnson's first-choice openside flanker at the start of an all-important World Cup year but 31-year-old Fourie is knocking on the door.

South Africa-born Fourie, who qualifies for England duty on residency grounds, made his Red Rose debut as a replacement for Moody against New Zealand at the start of the recent Autumn Internationals, and went on to earn three more caps, including playing a full 80 minutes against Samoa.

Moody was a constant source of advice for the hungry Fourie while on international duty and ahead of a domestic fixture that pits ninth-placed Bath against bottom-club Leeds, the Carnegie flanker was keen to steer the discussion away from suggestions of any rivalry between the two.

"It's just another game and I'll try to play the best I can," he said.

"If that means it's against Lewis then that's how it's got to be.

"But I've never played against a guy personally, I've always played against the team, concentrating on my position and my team.

"That's how I play and how I will play on Saturday."

Fourie was instrumental as Leeds claimed their first victory of the season against Gloucester on Saturday, scoring the opening try to set up their belated win. But his head coach Neil Back – himself a former England No 7 – sets his star pupil high standards.

Back said: "I still think he was outstanding but he will feel he let the team down a bit because he coughed up the ball three or four times.

"But in the contact area he was phenomenal.

"He went down hurt at one stage, and we were worried, but he bounced straight back up."

Leeds's win on New Year's Day pulled them to within three points of Newcastle and has breathed new life into their fight against relegation.

Continuing that form will not be easy against a Bath side who, although under-achieving, thrashed Leeds in the corresponding fixture last season and were too strong for them on the opening day of this campaign.

But Fourie said: "Anything's possible. We need to focus and stay on our game plan and work on our mentality."