Rugby World Cup 2011

Flood holds his breath

2011-10-05 14:14
Toby Flood (File)

Auckland - Toby Flood's patience may be rewarded as he waits on news of injuries to England duo Jonny Wilkinson and Mike Tindall ahead of Saturday's Rugby World Cup quarter-final against France at Eden Park.

The Leicester flyhalf has had to bide his time with cameo appearances at the tournament but reports suggest he may get a starting role as England seek to play a higher tempo game than in their stodgy 16-12 win over Scotland last weekend.

Wilkinson is fighting an elbow injury, but trained lightly on Tuesday, while inside centre Tindall is struggling with a stiff leg and has yet to train this week ahead of Thursday's team announcement.

Flood came on for Tindall with nine minutes left and threw the long pass that put wing Chris Ashton over for the winning try with two minutes left against the Scots last weekend.

The 26-year-old Flood also has the better goalkicking stats than his more illustrious team-mate Wilkinson at the tournament - he has nailed 10 of his 13 attempts at goal while Wilkinson has managed nine out of 20.

Flood has amassed 223 points in his 45 internationals while Wilkinson has 1 177 points from his 90 Tests spread over 13 years - an England record points total and a tally bettered in all international rugby only by New Zealand's Dan Carter.

The Leicester man trained alongside Wilkinson on Tuesday wearing the number 12 bib and could yet play there depending on Tindall's fitness.

"I was disappointed not to be in the XV like any player is. I understand the decision behind it, I'm getting behind the boys, but I don't think anything has changed for me," Flood told reporters here on Tuesday.

"All I can do is what I have been doing is just putting my hand up when I get the opportunity and at the same time it's no different to what I was doing during the Six Nations.

"If I get 78 minutes or two minutes, I just come on and try to do what I can and that's all you can do."

Flood was at flyhalf when England scored 29 unanswered first-half points against France at Twickenham in 2009 and also led the way in their 17-9 win over Les Bleus this year.

"It's a great scenario for me to be in. You never wish anyone to be injured and by all intents and purposes he's (Wilkinson) is going to be fine," Flood said.

"It's the World Cup quarter-final and it's France, but we play them every year and we have an understanding of France, we know they are in a situation now where it looks they're in disarray.

"But I've been in teams that look in disarray and suddenly when players start playing for one another it's a very dangerous thing to be and a very powerful tool."

Flood has urged his team-mates to unite after off-field problems have threatened to derail their World Cup.

England have been damaged by the negative fallout from Tindall's boozy night out in Queenstown early in the campaign as well as having two players, Courtney Lawes and Delon Armitage, banned for foul play while two coaches were suspended for illegally swapping balls during the pool win over Romania.

"I think time and place draws you into uniting behind things," Flood said.

"Unite now for the greater good this is our goal, we have to achieve this and it has happened; I think the guys have pulled together.

"It's not as if we have to fighting off anybody else but it's time to say 'look we are what we are now and this is important and this goes beyond anyone else and a squad and we have to deal with it and unite'."


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