Six Nations: England boss Stuart Lancaster failed to convince Leicester's Toby Flood not to move to France
Last Updated: 10/01/14 12:39pm
Stuart Lancaster: Failed to convince Flood to stay in England
England head coach Stuart Lancaster says he was forced to admit defeat after failing to convince Toby Flood not to move to France at the end of the season, drawing a curtain on the Leicester fly-half's international career.
England boss Lancaster has omitted Leicester fly-half Flood from his Elite Player Squad, spelling the end of the 60-cap playmaker's international career.
Only "exceptional circumstances" allow England to select overseas-based players, but those have never been called into action.
Flood will join French Top 14 side Toulouse in the summer, ending five years with Leicester and surrendering the Tigers' club captaincy.
Lancaster has promoted Bath's 20-year-old fly-half George Ford in Flood's place, temporarily adding Northampton's Stephen Myler to his RBS 6 Nations squad too.
Lancaster has backed both new playmakers to capitalise on the opportunities.
"I'm disappointed that Toby's chosen to play in France next season," Lancaster said.
"I tried to encourage him to stay at Leicester, but it's a great opportunity for George to come in. Toby's been great for us and I respect him and his decision. I've got a great relationship with him, but he understands our policy.
"I would rather make the decision now at this point 20 months out from a World Cup to give someone like George Ford or Stephen Myler the chance to show what they can do now."
Lancaster said Ford's composure in Saturday's 27-27 draw at Leicester cemented the youngster's elevation.
Ford has progressed confidently through every England age group, and Lancaster admitted he had been earmarked for full squad elevation for some time.
Northampton's form Premiership fly-half Stephen Myler will train with the full England squad, and Lancaster said he has a real chance to muscle into the senior set-up permanently.
"The tipping point was George's maturity in that game, I thought that was excellent," said Lancaster. "We've known about him for a long time.
"He had great development at Leicester and has had game time at Bath now. It's the right time to see what he can do at a higher level.
"He's got some competition with Stephen Myler coming in to train with the squad too. His tactical kicking game is excellent, he beats defenders, he defends well and he's a good goal-kicker too.
"The senior figures at Bath have a huge amount of respect for his game understanding, and his maturity.
"There have been lots of occasions when players have been on the outside then pressed their case.
"Owen Farrell has the shirt at the moment so that's George Ford's challenge to show what he can do."
Freddie Burns has kept his place in England's Elite Player Squad, but will turn out for the second-string Saxons against Ireland Wolfhounds at Kingsholm on January 25.
Lancaster wants to help Burns play himself back into form, after his much-publicised agony over where he will play his rugby next season.
Gloucester fly-half Burns will move to Leicester in the summer, and his form slumped while he wrestled with that decision.
Lancaster said: "We will play Freddie in the first Saxons game at Gloucester. He's missed a few games recently, and it's a chance for him to put a marker down."