Flood targets No 10 role permanently

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Toby Flood believes his move to Leicester will help him inhabit the England fly-half jersey on a long-term lease rather than short-term loan.

Flood has replaced Andy Goode in the England team for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations showdown with Ireland at Croke Park, meaning England have now changed their starting fly-half seven times and used five different players in 10 Test matches, dating back to when Jonny Wilkinson was the incumbent during the 2008 RBS 6 Nations.



England boss Martin Johnson is anxious for one of his contenders to make the position their own and Saturday will be Flood's latest opportunity to bed down in the England team.



Flood, who has been around the England set-up for over two years and won 23 caps - only 11 of those have been in the starting XV, with just four at fly-half - feels better suited to grasping the challenge now than at any time before.



"Being in the Leicester environment is a tough one. You have to mature quickly and there is not really much room for a mistake," he said.



"Leicester play in a lot of high-profile games. I have enjoyed my time there and being in that environment at the club has allowed me to improve my game.



"It's the time you want to be to putting your hand up and making a mark, to cement a position in the squad in which there is a huge amount of competition."



Flood, who moved to Welford Road from Newcastle last summer, was unavailable for England's opening win against Italy after suffering a calf injury but came off the bench to replace Goode in the defeat to Wales.



Johnson has been impressed by Flood's development both with Leicester and England this season.



"You want players to nail down the position. We need a core of players who when we pick the side are consistent in international rugby," said the England boss.



"There are a few positions which have been chopped and changed for various reasons and this is Toby's opportunity to take hold of it with a good performance.



"Toby's kicking game has been very good when he has come on, his defence has improved, as has his grasp of what we are trying to do in attack and his distribution has been good.



"We have seen a bit more composure from him this season. This is a chance for Toby to come in and get a start.



"I thought he did well when he started there against the All Blacks (in November) and this is an opportunity to nail down the position."



But there are still key lessons to be learned. Flood missed a crucial kick against Wales which would have moved England to within five points with seven minutes still to play.



Johnson said: "You want your kickers up there at 80%. We missed an important one last week and we missed a few in the Italy game. That is part of the consistency of being an international player.



"It is all those little things that add up to make the big picture. Kicking your goals and putting pressure on the scoreboard is what the game is all about."

Comments