Rugby World Cup
Flood out to prove coaches wrong
September 15, 2011
Flood talks to the media ahead of England's second World Cup clash against Georgia © Getty Images
Toby Flood is determined to reclaim the England No.10 shirt and is set to be given a chance to stake his claim against Georgia on Sunday.
Flood was England's first-choice playmaker for their victorious Six Nations campaign but saw veteran rival Jonny Wilkinson get the nod from manager Martin Johnson for their Rugby World Cup opener against Argentina last weekend.
Wilkinson eventually steered England to a narrow 13-9 victory but endured a torrid night that saw him miss five penalties. A frustrated Flood was forced to watch from the sidelines with Wilkinson given the chance to work through his problems and as a result he is desperate to prove his boss wrong should he, as expected, get the chance to spearhead the side against the Georgians.
"It was really frustrating not to be part of the first win but you get over it pretty quickly and realise it's a massive squad effort," Flood said. "It is difficult but you take it on the chin. In coming weeks the squad is going to be important.
"You can't let it knock you. All I can do is go out there and try to prove them wrong on the decision they're making. You hope you get the chance and make an impact, put your hand up when you get an opportunity. They haven't said 'You're second fiddle or whatever', each week is selected on form more than anything else."
Flood grew up playing with Wilkinson at Newcastle and insisted they are the only two people who seem not to be fixated with their battle for the No.10 jersey. "You get asked it every other day. Even my mum asks me the same questions," Flood added. "We get on better than most people think.
"[At Newcastle] I never saw it as a competition but as a chance to learn from an outstanding player. When you're 18 or so and you see who's on top of the world, it's amazing to be there. It's a talking point outside the squad but between me and Jonny there's no big high five or handshake of congratulations about getting the start. It's just down to business."
Flood brushed aside criticism of his rival's latest display and underlined his concern about the balls before suggesting the reason for Wilkinson's lack of control was down to the fact that the new balls had not been "kicked in" sufficiently.
"I'm always hit and hope so it doesn't change anything in my dynamic," he joked. "It was a bit of a shock to the system (to see Wilkinson missing) but take out maybe one and a half of those kicks and the rest were pretty tough.
"They weren't all gimmes, it's tough for him and it's hard to console someone after the game. But he said he thought he hit them well so I don't think it has been a massive soul-searching week for him."
Johnson will confirm his side to face Georgia on Friday and England are hoping that squad captain Lewis Moody will be back to lead the team after finally recovering from a knee ligament injury. Elsewhere, loose-head Alex Corbisiero is expected to fill the void left by Andrew Sheridan whose tournament has been ended by injury.
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