Saturday 21 April 2018

Lancaster: I tried to stop Flood's French switch

Stuart Lancaster, England head coach
Stuart Lancaster, England head coach

Stuart Lancaster fought to convince Toby Flood not to move to France at the end of the season, the England head coach has confirmed.

England boss Lancaster has omitted Leicester fly-half Flood from his Elite Player Squad, spelling the end of the 60-cap playmaker's international career.

"Exceptional circumstances" allow the England boss to select overseas-based players, but those have never been called into action.

Flood will join French Top 14 side Toulouse in the summer, ending five years with Leicester and surrendering the club captaincy.

Lancaster has promoted Bath's 20-year-old fly-half George Ford in Flood's place, while also adding Northampton's Stephen Myler to his Six Nations squad.

Lancaster has backed both new playmakers to capitalise on the opportunities.

"I'm disappointed that Toby's chosen to play in France next season," Lancaster said.

"I tried to encourage him to stay at Leicester, but it's a great opportunity for George to come in.

"Toby's been great for us and I respect him and his decision.

"I've got a great relationship with him, but he understands our policy.

"I would rather make the decision now, 20 months out from the World Cup to give someone like George Ford or Stephen Myler the chance to show just what they can do."

Lancaster said Ford's composure in Saturday's 27-27 draw at Leicester cemented the youngster's elevation.

"The tipping point was George's maturity in that game, I thought that was excellent," said Lancaster.

"We've known about him for a long time. He had great development at Leicester and has had game time at Bath now.

"It's the right time to see what he can do at a higher level."

Irish Independent

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