Vickery backs Flood omission

Phil Vickery says 'it's probably the right time to try something different, especially with the World Cup coming up'

Phil Vickery says 'it's probably the right time to try something different, especially with the World Cup coming up'

First published in National Sport News © by

England head coach Stuart Lancaster was right to drop Toby Flood, but because of form not his summer move to France, according to Phil Vickery.

World Cup winner Vickery has backed Bath fly-half George Ford's elevation to England's full Elite Player Squad and is confident the 20-year-old is ready for Test rugby.

Former Leicester outside-half Ford was Lancaster's one permanent change to his EPS, with eight short-term call-ups from the second-string Saxons designed to offset a raft of injuries.

Leicester captain Flood will move to Toulouse in the summer, effectively ruling himself out of the international reckoning.

England do not select overseas-based players, in a bid to keep their top talents in the Aviva Premiership.

Ex-Gloucester and Wasps front-rower Vickery believes Ford deserves his chance irrespective of Flood's situation.

"I don't think that's the biggest issue, it being based around him leaving and potentially going to France," said Vickery.

"I think that should be a decision based around form. Toby is an excellent player, but I don't think he has ever quite played his best rugby with England.

"You cannot command the club captaincy at Leicester without being a quality player and a good leader.

"He has had a lot of opportunity with England, though, and never really cemented his place.

"So it's probably the right time to try something different, especially with the World Cup coming up."

Flood's international career is effectively over at 60 caps, and that means England lose their most experienced squad member for the upcoming RBS 6 Nations.

"Owen Farrell is coming back to find some form again now, and he will probably be England's number one 10," added Vickery.

"It's been tough to see Freddie Burns struggle so far this year, and if he had been on form it would have been great to see him and Farrell push each other all the way.

"George Ford has been progressing very steadily, though, and these guys are the future.

"England actually have a lot more options at fly-half than they have had for a long, long time.

"Stephen Myler deserves his opportunity, and then there's even George's brother Joe who is a handy player too.

"Depth like that is fantastic, but it also creates tough decisions too."

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