London - Lewis Moody said Thursday he was "genuinely gutted" by Martin Johnson's decision to quit as England boss after a lacklustre World Cup campaign and insisted he was still the best man for the job.
Moody, England's captain in New Zealand, retired from international rugby after a World Cup where they failed to reach their minimum target of a semi-final spot following a last eight loss to France.
And the authority of Johnson, England's 2003 World Cup-winning captain, was compromised by several unsavoury off-field incidents involving his players.
Johnson resigned as England team manager on Wednesday and Moody, who started his career with the legendary lock at Leicester, said he was sad his old team-mate wouldn't be in charge come the 2015 World Cup on home soil.
"I am genuinely gutted for Martin and the team to hear that he has decided not to continue in the role," Moody said.
"As I've said before, having taken England to a Six Nations win for the first time in seven years and achieved 10 out of 13 wins for England this season, he has been a great asset to England, and in my eyes was the right man for the job - to take them forward to 2015," the Bath flanker added.
"He was a great man to work with and under and I know that the rest of the team will agree that he will be sorely missed. I wish him all the best in whatever he goes on to do."
England's crisis-ridden Rugby Football Union, which has lost a chief executive, a chairman and now the manager of its national all within a matter of months, is now looking to get a successor to Johnson on board in time for the start of the Six Nations in February.
The RFU suffered another blow on Wednesday when respected former South Africa and Italy coach Nick Mallett ruled himself out of the race for the England job.
Northampton boss Jim Mallinder is a 15/8 favourite with British bookmakers William Hill to replace Johnson.
Hills have Graham Henry, who stepped down as New Zealand coach after leading the All Blacks to World Cup glory last month, at 9/2.
Former Wales coach Henry is due in London next week to coach the Barbarians in their non-cap international against Australia at Twickenham on November 26.