Johnson - Tough on Riki
World Cup winner hoping he's got the formula right for tournament
Last Updated: 23/08/11 8:12am
England team manager Martin Johnson admits it was a tough decision to leave Riki Flutey out of his World Cup squad.
The Wasps centre was the biggest name to miss out on a place in the 30-man party for the upcoming tournament in New Zealand, with Shontayne Hape the only recognised No.12 selected.
Instead, Johnson has picked three specialist scrum-halves in a squad comprised of 17 forwards and 13 backs.
"Someone like Riki would have been ideal (to cover at 10). He can play a bit of nine too but you have to make a call somewhere."
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The World Cup winner revealed he would "love" to have taken Flutey but that he could simply not afford to risk taking just two No.9s on the trip.
"Would I love to have Riki on the plane? Of course I would," admitted Johnson.
"It was tough on Riki, who has done nothing wrong. We just felt that was the best way to go.
"Someone like Riki would have been ideal (to cover at 10). He can play a bit of nine too but you have to make a call somewhere.
"Utility is good but it is not the trump card. We just felt we had to go with five props and four locks because of the attrition rate and it was too big a risk to take two scrum-halves.
"Any solution leaves you slightly thin somewhere. If we get an injury in the front row I will look like a genius. If we get one at inside centre...
"We can probably cover at 10 a little bit easier than nine. It is a very specialist position.
"Yes, it won't be great if we have two injuries at 10. But like hooker, nine is a specialist position. You need a guy there who can do it.
"Ben Foden has played a decent amount of rugby there but not for a while. Riki could cover nine as well but we thought it was a risk we couldn't take."
Johnson went for Hape, Mike Tindall and Manu Tuilagi, though he could also use Toby Flood, who will fight it out with Jonny Wilkinson to start in the No.10 jersey, at inside centre.
"We cover all these things when you are putting the squad together. We know Toby can play 12," he said.
"We often finish with them at 10-12 so we know the options that are there. We have a great option with Jonny if we need to and want to."