Six Nations 2013: Toby Flood no stranger to England competition
Six Nations 2013: Toby Flood says he has plenty to offer Stuart Lancaster's England despite facing a tough battle for the No10 jersey
Toby Flood insists he still has plenty to offer Stuart Lancaster’s England during the Six Nations – even if his younger rivals have him feeling old before his time.
Since Jonny Wilkinson hung up his international boots in 2011 following a disastrous World Cup in New Zealand, Leicester Tigers’ Flood had been the go-to man to fill the 2003 winner’s sizeable boots – that is until now.
The 27-year-old has had to make-do with a place on the bench in recent Tests following the emergence of Owen Farrell 12 months ago, making the most of Flood being kept out of international duty with a toe injury at the back end of last year.
However, Flood is no stranger to having to fight for the England No10 jersey, having constantly battled with the likes of Wilkinson, Charlie Hodgson and Danny Cipriani for the honour since making his debut back in 2006.
And despite admitting to a few extra grey hairs because of it, Flood says the current situation is nothing new to him as he takes it all in his stride.
“We are in a great area with the team now in that everyone is really open and honest with each other and everyone speaks very kindly to one another and that comes down from the coaches,” said Flood, who is representing the England team for Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Official partner of the RFU.
“You know where you sit and you know what you have to do to achieve what you want to achieve.
“I will obviously keep pushing and pushing and working as hard as I can in training and likewise so will all the other guys not currently in the starting XV.
“I think what you have got here now is not a competition from peer to peer or player to player but you have got a competition inside the squad that just wants England to be successful.
“So you have got 32, 33 guys who are trying to move themselves down the road and trying to get better for the benefit of one another, not necessarily for the benefit of the individual and that is where we are getting to as a squad.
“I have been through the wash a few times and I have had Jonny, Charlie and Cipriani – all those sorts of guys to compete with and now I have Freddie (Burns) and Owen (Farrell) coming on the scene so I am no stranger to it.”
Also adding to Flood’s premature aging has been club-mate George Ford back at Tigers – the two have been competing for the number ten-jersey in recent seasons.
And so you think Flood would be pleased to see the back of Ford next season – rumoured to be heading to Bath – but it couldn’t be further from the truth.
“The world is at that guys feet,” Flood said. “Whatever he wants to do and however he wants to play he has the ability to go and do anything he wants.
“It is shame to see him go and I wish he was staying with the club. He is a good guy to have around first and foremost.
“Obviously he is an incredibly driven guy and that is what people want to see and it is a shame to see him move on.
“For me I am really disappointed about that. I enjoyed his company as a bloke and I really enjoyed playing with him.
“But these things happen for whatever reason and I wish him all the best but he doesn’t really need it as his talent will speak for itself.
“I can understand the reasons why he has gone and I think he has a lot to give the game.
“If he gets regular game-time, then that will obviously make him a better player – that is the same for everyone in the Aviva Premiership.”