Tindall stays put as England worry over Flood's fitness

Click to follow
The Independent Online

One of the many questions surrounding England's centre partnership – the single under-performing area of the side in the attacking sense – was answered yesterday when Mike Tindall, the interim captain, committed himself to another season at Gloucester, the club he joined from Bath six years ago. That's him settled, then. Quite how soon other conclusions will be reached is anyone's guess, but when Scotland pitch up at Twickenham on Sunday to take their annual Calcutta Cup swipe at the old enemy, they can expect the usual ultra-physical assault from the red-rose midfield.

Tindall and Shontayne Hape will not play any differently whatever the identity of the outside-half operating inside them. This is likely to be Toby Flood, the current No 1 choice in the No 10 position, unless the manager, Martin Johnson, decides he has not spent enough time on the training field after recovering from the Achilles injury that cut short his outing against France 13 days ago. In that event, Jonny Wilkinson will make his first Test start since this time last year, with Flood on the bench.

The one guaranteed change to the starting line-up will be in the front row, with Alex Corbisiero of London Irish replacing the stricken Andrew Sheridan, out for the remainder of the Six Nations with a calf problem. On recent evidence, the inexperienced Corbisiero is the least of England's concerns. Drafted in at short notice for the game against Italy and then called on for the best part of an hour against the French, he has faced two of the world's leading tight-head props – Martin Castrogiovanni and Nicolas Mas – and come up smelling of something sweet. Less than two full games into his Test career, he has played himself onto Johnson's shortlist for the forthcoming World Cup in New Zealand.