Toby Flood inspired by Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins

 

Bradley Wiggins has helped convince Toby Flood that England's young guns can go on to achieve great things.

Wiggins was invited by England coach Stuart Lancaster to join the squad for dinner during their training camp in Burton last week.

The Tour de France winner and Olympic time-trial champion, who was yesterday released from hospital a day after being involved in a road traffic accident, gave an insight into his route to the top and he struck an immediate chord with Flood.

"You see these great champions and you think they are super-human, you think they are guys who mustn't have any fears, any doubts or any issues," Flood said.

"But they are not. They are very similar to us. They have an extreme talent they are able to use but that doesn't mean their mind doesn't doubt their body.

"You're here in international rugby because you can kick, catch, lineout and scrummage. The self-doubts that come in are 'am I as good as...?'

"Bradley was very honest and candid. He spoke about how he messed up on occasions, how he got things wrong and how he coped with the pressure.

"There were a lot of things he does we do that are similar and to hear that only makes you realise how important it is.

"I truly believe there is huge growth in this young side as it develops towards the 2015 World Cup and there is a chance for it to really do something outstanding on the lead in."

Flood has 50 caps to his name and is the most experienced player in the greenhorn England side that Lancaster named yesterday, in which only four players have made more than 13 Test appearances.

Leicester hooker Tom Youngs will make his England debut while the 21-year-old pair of Mako Vunipola and Joe Launchbury are in line to make win their first caps off the bench.

Lancaster insists all three have been picked on form and not just as part of a youth policy. He is rebuilding the England team for 2015.

Flood is convinced the "youthful exuberance" will stand England in good stead this autumn as they go on to face Australia, South Africa and New Zealand - and beyond.

"There's an environment now where guys are encouraged to go and play. That no-fear mentality has certainly helped the guys," he said.

"There's such a desire to play and such vigour around the side in terms of how they want to go out there and show their hand. That's what we have to tap into.

"We'd like to show there's an opportunity to win and to win well. We've got an opportunity, it's our home, we want to win."

PA

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