Rugby World Cup 2011
Corry: England should pick Flood
ESPNscrum Staff
October 2, 2011
England's Chris Ashton is engulfed after scoring a try, England v Scotland, Rugby World Cup, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, October 1, 2011
Wilkinson goes down injured during his side's narrow victory over Scotland at Eden Park © Getty Images

Former captain Martin Corry believes England would be served better by selecting Toby Flood instead of Jonny Wilkinson for next weekend's Rugby World Cup quarter-final showdown with France.

Wilkinson endured another nightmare day with the boot against Scotland, missing four penalties and two drop-goals as England found themselves behind and facing the prospect of World Cup elimination. The Toulon fly-half has now missed 11 out of his 20 place kicks at the tournament this year and was replaced with ten minutes remaining by Flood, who subsequently helped England to a 16-12 victory.

Wilkinson also picked up an arm injury and even if he recovers in time for the clash with the French, Corry - part of the England squad that won the World Cup in 2003 - feels Flood may be the best option for manager Martin Johnson.

Asked who he would pick for the France game out of Flood and Wilkinson if the latter was fit, Corry told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme: "It's a real tough one, but I think you have to start going for horses for courses and it would probably swing back to Flood now.

"You look at Wilkinson and you don't know how much it is him taking the options or how much it is pre-planned. You look at the drop-goal he missed, but also the kick he is taking from 45metres-plus, at the angle.

"When Flood came on, he had a penalty and he just put it straight into the corner and England started to play from that. You start to think that is why England need a player who will turn down these high-risk penalty opportunities and start putting it in the corner.

"I don't know if that is team orders, or Jonny Wilkinson, or the captain Lewis Moody saying go for it, but I think it is harming the way England are playing the game."

Wilkinson's kicking coach Dave Alred was banned for the Scotland match after swapping the ball used by the 32-year-old in the win over Romania.

Jason Robinson - another member of the triumphant 2003 England squad - is sure Alred's absence would not have had much impact on Wilkinson's performance, and thinks Johnson must be having trouble determining what side to field.

"Dave Alred has been a massive influence on Jonny, but that wouldn't have affected him yesterday with his kicking," Robinson said. "England are not getting forward momentum, so Jonny is just trying to build the score, but unfortunately he was slightly off with the boot.

"I don't think many people are guaranteed to make the first XV, and I think there are very few that are putting their hands up and making a real difference at the moment. That has been one of Martin Johnson's problems - the players have not been playing to their ability and it must be very hard for him to pick a side.

"Toby Flood comes on for the last ten minutes, England get a bit of momentum and instead of kicking for goal, he goes to touch and all of a sudden we get a drive on. It will be interesting to see who is selected."

The Rugby Football Union have stated that only domestic-based players are to be selected for England after the World Cup, a policy that will be overlooked in exceptional circumstances. It leaves Wilkinson's international future looking uncertain, though as far as Corry is concerned, his former team-mate still has plenty to offer.

"It's Johnno's call - he will allow for people with exceptional circumstances, and I think if anyone has had exceptional circumstances, it's Wilko," Corry said. "It's his call, and it's Johnno's statement, which he has to live by. Let's hope England's World Cup is not finishing next week.

"But I still think Jonny Wilkinson is a class act and a class player, who offers so much not just on the field, but off the field."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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