Toby Flood(ing) out of favour

Thu, 09 Jan 2014 08:23

Toby Flood's 60-cap England career could come to an end on Thursday when Stuart Lancaster names his initial elite player squad ahead of this season's Six Nations.

Flood is set to join French giants Toulouse at the end of the campaign and, with Lancaster so far resolute in holding to his line not to select overseas-based players, Leicester coach Richard Cockerill feels he might drop the playmaker and promote the likes of 20-year-old George Ford instead in a bid to gain experience ahead of next year's World Cup in England.

"We've had discussions about it. It looks like that might be the case, that Toby may not be included, but we'll have to wait and see," Cockerill said.

"Toby and Stuart Lancaster have had those discussions and you could intimate that if Toby is left out, that he is moving to France.

"I would be upset if he left us and went to an English club. He could still pick Toby but Stuart always looks to the future and, if Toby is not going to be in the country, it probably makes sense to look to the future," the former England hooker added.

Leicester are set to sign Gloucester's Freddie Burns to replace Flood and Cockerill said there were a number of promising options for England at No 10 who could compete for the shirt with incumbent fly-half Owen Farrell.

"George Ford has been on great form," said Cockerill. "He understands the game and kicks very well, he is a threat off the line as well.

"Freddie Burns has been the heir apparent, and has been off form, but he has something about him.

"Stephen Myler has been on very good form for Northampton and they are second in the table.

"Owen gives them plenty of options. They are just slightly shy of experience at that level, and that is the one thing Toby can offer," Cockerill said of the 28-year-old Flood.

"Stuart will make the right call and if that is not with Toby, the world will go on."

Leicester captain Flood made his name at Newcastle as understudy to England great Jonny Wilkinson before joining the Tigers in 2008.

Also capable of playing at centre, he made his England debut in 2006 but was never able to quite nail down a place as a regular starting fly-half, with nearly half of his caps (24) won as a replacement.