- Toby Flood says Australia match will be step up
- Combination with Alex Goode an important creative axis
The last time Toby Flood faced Australia at Twickenham he scored 25 points with his boot, the most ever recorded by an Englishman against the Wallabies.
That was back in 2010 when England beat Australia 35-18 in what is still viewed as one of the side’s most complete performances of recent years, with wing Chris Ashton scoring two eye-catching tries. It was also one of Flood’s most accomplished displays at fly half with the Leicester Tigers man notching up seven penalties and two conversions.
Against Fiji last Saturday England secured a seven try, 54-12 victory, with Flood scoring 17 points. The 27-year-old's looks back fondly to the 2010 victory but he is under no illusions of the threat that the Wallabies pose and will not be dwelling too much on history.
"It was a good day for us. We started okay and we were lucky to be up on scoreboard early on," said Flood. "The game grew from there and we were happy with the way we dealt with the match and managed the side, the collision speed and everything we were doing just got better as the game went on so it was a good day all round.
"It was probably one of the stand out performances of that autumn so we were happy with that but we are not hanging our hats on that really as a lot has happened since. There has been a lot of water under the bridge in two years. They are a different side and we are certainly a different side."
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Australia may have lost 33-6 to France last weekend but Flood has noted their form in the recent Rugby Championship, which included a creditable 18-18 draw with the All Blacks. The former Newcastle Falcon says there is an extra edge to training this week, with everyone anticipating an increase in intensity.
“They are a team that have played at high level for the past few months and they have just come out the back of the four nations which is incredible Test match rugby,” said Flood.
“They will be fully amped up. We know it’s the end of a long season for them but they are a group of fantastic individuals and when they get it right and play as a team, and they evolve their game on top of you throughout the match they show that they are a fantastic side.
“We are wary of what they have to offer and there is a little tingle and little spark this week in the camp as we realise that the intensity level will go up dramatically this weekend.”
Flood makes a valid point. England had only faced Fiji four times before last weekend’s clash and they still have a 100 per cent success rate against the Pacific Islanders, who are ranked 14th in the world. Australia are ranked third and while they may be missing key personnel such as David Pocock and Will Genia, but they are still expected to challenge what is still a relatively new England side.
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Within Stuart Lancaster’s constantly evolving England squad is full back Alex Goode, who made an eye-catching Twickenham debut last weekend against the Fijians. Having played both full back and fly half for Saracens, Goode said before the match that he would be aiming to take pressure off Flood.
At times he stood at first receiver and provided assists for three of the first four tries, much to the delight of Flood.
“The benefit of Alex is that you have a guy who is used to filling it at first receiver and who does it for this club,” said Flood. “He helps facilitate when structuring things in the game and helps make it quite fluid when he is at first receiver and I am at second, and vice versa.
“He has the ability to call ball to space and he had a very strong game in the way that he moved and manipulated defenders. He is slightly different to normal full backs as he is not just a strong runner and good under the high ball, but also has a good ability to create space for others because of his quick feet and knowledge of playing at 10.
“It doesn’t change the way I play drastically as you have to play within the same structure of the side, but it does give you options of two ball players. The Kiwis have always had first and second 5/8s and having two ball players on the pitch is really important on how the back line functions.”