Toby Flood: Wales will be dangerous, but we have to believe we can win this tournament

Starting today, and ahead of every Six Nations weekend, the highly talented fly-half takes us inside the England camp in an exclusive column

We do not feel under any more pressure than we ever would for a Six Nations. There is always pressure playing for England – always has been, always will be – but there is also an air of excitement. It's a huge opportunity to make your mark. Yes, the results were disappointing in the autumn but England did play some good stuff – there was a definite improvement towards the end. There were a lot of young guys involved and that is always going to take time to gel.

We finished second in last year's Six Nations and want to go one better. I'm not saying we are going to win the Grand Slam, but you go out there and believe – otherwise, what is the point?

Wales are one of the best teams in the tournament; they have some very strong players, look at how many Lions they have. In my area, Jamie Roberts and James Hook are dangerous players. Wales are good enough to win the competition, so having them at home is a big thing. Home advantage still counts for plenty in the Six Nations – we have to make a big impact at Twickenham as the three games we have away, Italy, Scotland and France, are pretty difficult.

France are as dangerous as ever; Ireland are experienced and know success. They and Wales have been the strongest teams of the last three years. I love the Irish back three – Kearney, Bowe and Trimble, they have been going well, Trimble especially. He is a big unit and is playing fantastically well. We will be worried about him. Imanol Harinordoquy is my other man to watch for this Six Nations. He has had a couple of lean years but is back to his very best.

My life with the bench boys

It's just before training on Tuesday that the team is announced. We're all changed and ready to go out. "Here's the team," says Johno – there is no fuss, no time to think about it before we are all out training. It doesn't seem that big a deal. In the build up you get an idea which way it's going. You do feel for those who are sent home, but then all the 32-man squad will have some part to play over the next few weeks. All 32 of us are in it together. There is some disappointment if you are not in the starting XV; we are competitive animals and all want to start – there is no way of hiding that. But how you deal with it is what matters.

Being on the bench is an odd one. It can be difficult to prepare mentally – you never know when you are going to come on, or if you are going to come on. When I'm on the bench I never get nervous until the whistle goes, only then is it "Right, I could be on at any moment". In that second you are ready. It is something of a gradual process, the crowd building up, coming out for the game, the anthems, and by the time it kicks off you are raring to go.

I will be covering the 10-12 channel so you have to prepare as if you could be playing either of those positions. I know all the moves and calls for 10. The volume of training is just the same – I always prepare the same way. During the week I put in kick after kick after kick, and you are not happy unless, say, eight out of 10 go over.

Staying on the Boyle

In the build up to a game we have a fair amount of time to chill out after training. The spa at our hotel is popular. I like to lie down and have a read – My Shit Life So Far by Frankie Boyle, the Scottish comedian, is the book I've got on the go at the moment. I do find him very funny. Next on the list is Bill Bryson's Short History of Nearly Everything – again. It's one of my favourite books. It is important to have something to do during the down time ahead of a game – it's too easy to get bored otherwise. Some guys watch TV, I like to get into a book.

Getting Cole warmed up

We room together until Wednesday and then everyone gets one of their own for when wives and girlfriends are allowed to stay. I was put together with Dan Cole, my Leicester team-mate. Whether it's down to Johno or the team manager who shares with whom, I have no idea but I am sure they try and put the new guys with someone they know – which is how I ended up with Dan. It makes it easier when you start off. At club level everything is so familiar, the faces, the training, the routine – when you step up to England it is all different and new. It is a massive learning curve and can be overwhelming for some. It can be a tough time. But Coley is very laid back and seems to have coped with it all fine. He's a quiet guy and sees everything in a very black and white manner. He has a strength of mind that should help him through.

News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions