England set to drop Flood for Six Nations

Leicester Tigers flyhalf Toby Flood looks set to be omitted from England’s 35-strong Six Nations Championship training squad as he will be playing in France from next season.

England head coach Stuart Lancaster is expected to retain the core of his regular players but add in a small number of uncapped players.

Former Tigers flyhalf George Ford who now plays for Bath is expected to replace Flood in the revised squad with Owen Farrell remaining the first choice fly half.

Twenty-eight-year-old Flood has won 60 caps for England and has confirmed that he is leaving Leicester at the end of the season to join an as-yet unspecified French club – most likely Toulouse.

The Tigers have been tipped to replace Flood next season with Gloucester’s Freddie Burns.

Leicester Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill says Lancaster might drop Flood for Ford 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.

Cockerill said that Ford has been playing well and is a promising option as back up for 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.”

Former England winger Mark Cueto who is the all-time leading try scorer in the Aviva Premiership, told BBC Radio 5 live,”Stuart Lancaster has always said that the guys he’s going to pick and play for England need to be playing in the Premiership and that goes back a few years.

“There’s always that temptation of going out to France, and in this case it looks like Toby’s not going to be in the mix this Six Nations.

“Flood has been a huge part of the England squad for years. He is by far the most experienced player in the squad and in the pivotal role at 10.

“He’ll be coming up to 30 so he’s probably at the peak of his earning power and this contract is a huge opportunity to set himself up for the future.”

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