Flood wants united England
Leicester star demands England put distractions behind them
Last Updated: 05/10/11 9:23am
Flood: Message to team-mates
Toby Flood wants England's players to take responsibility for their actions off the pitch and be more united on it to boost their World Cup hopes.
The Leicester fly-half admitted some of the squad feel disappointed by the recent headline-grabbing controversies while Shontayne Hape told the BBC that "a couple of the guys have let the squad down".
On Monday Mark Cueto blamed the media for making a "mountain out of a molehill", but Flood believes the first responsibility lies on the shoulders of each player and demands they put all the distractions behind them ahead of a quarter-final with France.
"I think Mark's point is valid to a degree in terms of there's been a lot been written about it. However you're in a World Cup," Flood said.
"There's a lot more fuss, a lot more that goes on with it.
"You stand by what you do as a person. You have to be accountable for what happens in life.
"By no means does that make somebody an idiot because as a squad there's a camaraderie there. You surround them and you're behind them. That's what we have to do as a squad.
"We understand things have happened, things that were not really what we wanted to do over here. However we deal with it as a squad, we unite behind it.
"We understand that sometimes when somebody is suffering it's an important time to rally around them and deal with it - and that's what we have to do at the moment.
"It's rumbled on but so what? We have to deal with it and understand that we've got to unite now... for the greater good. This is our goal.
"It's time for us to go: 'Look we are where we are now, this is important and this goes beyond anything else. As a squad we have to deal with it and unite'."
In some ways England's recent issues pale in comparison with those France are going through, with their squad seemingly in disarray following a Pool A defeat to Tonga.
The French players are understood to have held a summit meeting on Tuesday in a bid bring a sense of unity to the squad ahead of their showdown with England.
"We know they are in a situation now when it looks like they are in disarray - but I have been in teams that looked in disarray and it's a very dangerous thing," said Flood.
"It can be a very powerful tool."
England beat France en route to their Six Nations title and they have prevailed in the semi-finals at each of the last two World Cups.
France coach Marc Lievremont will unveil his line-up overnight while England counterpart Martin Johnson will not name his side until the early hours of Thursday morning.
Flood is unlikely to start unless Jonny Wilkinson fails to recover from an elbow problem he suffered in England's decisive Pool B victory over Scotland.
There has been a clamour in some quarters for Flood to start after he came on last weekend and created the match-winning try for Chris Ashton.
Wilkinson trained lightly on Tuesday after suffering an arm injury against Scotland but Mike Tindall took no part in the session as he continued to recover from a dead leg.
"I think he (Wilkinson) is going to be fine," said Flood.
"I think he is in a strong position. The scan has come back well and he is happy."
Flood accepts that Wilkinson's big match history will often earn him the nod, even though his kicking return is just 9/20 this tournament.
"That will definitely be something in his favour (in selection), something that's weighted towards him because he does have a history of doing it," he said.
The only potential England change comes on the wing, with Cueto to replace the suspended Delon Armitage and Flood is priming himself for a ferocious French onslaught.
"What we must do against France is say 'for 20 minutes, this is massive.' Our starts have been poor but if we get it right here then hopefully we'll remove any resistance we're going to have," said Flood.
"We have to understand as a side that we blitz them from minute one."