Aviva Premiership
'Tigers fly-half spot up for grabs'
ESPN Staff
August 7, 2012
Leicester's Toby Flood feels the force of Carl Fearns, Leicester v Bath, Aviva Premiership, Welford Road, Leicester, England, May 5, 2012
Toby Flood is no longer automatic first choice fly-half at the Tigers © PA Photos
Related Links
Players/Officials: Toby Flood | George Ford
Tournaments/Tours: Anglo-Welsh Cup | Aviva Premiership

Leicester Tigers coach Matt O'Connor insists that Toby Flood is not automatic first choice fly-half anymore with the starting berth to be decided on merit next season and not reputation.

Youngster George Ford shone for the Tigers last term as he helped them to their Anglo-Welsh Cup win and also booted them into the Aviva Premiership final with an assured performance in the semi-final against Saracens. Despite Ford's heroics in the semi-final, Tigers boss Richard Cockerill insisted that Flood would start the final if fit, stating that: "He [Flood] is a very good player, and he has earned the right to play, if he is 100% right to play."

As it transpired, Flood failed to regain fitness in time and Ford started the final. But there seems to be a different perspective at the Tigers this term with O'Connor stating that both pretenders to the throne will have to earn their place in the team.

"He [Ford] proved last season in the final that he is capable of playing at that level," O'Connor told the Leicester Mercury. "Having him and Floody is a good luxury to have.

"It depends on what England choose to do because Flood is in the Elite Player Squad and Ford is in the Saxons, but there should be a lot of opportunities for Ford to play this season. It (the No.10 shirt) will go to the best bloke on merit, and Ford has shown that Flood does not have a mortgage on that spot and will have to earn that jersey every week.

"We all know that England were keen to take Ford to South Africa in the summer. And now that Charlie Hodgson has stepped aside, Ford must be pretty close to being in the mix with the national team.

"One or two bangs to those blokes in front of him and he could be playing for England in November."

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