photo of twickenham stadium with the sky looking dark in the background

Toby Flood: England must catch ‘Rolls-Royce’ Ireland and start winning big games

Former England fly-half Toby Flood has said that it’s time for England to start winning big games, ahead of their colossal Six Nations tie against Ireland on Saturday.

Steve Borthwick’s side will be hopeful of an upset at Twickenham to prevent another Irish Grand Slam, while the opposition hunt for their fourth successive win by a margin of greater than 20 points in this year’s competition.

France, Italy and Wales have all succumbed to Andy Farrell’s side thus far, meaning Ireland will be the first-ever side to win back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slams if they beat England and overcome Scotland in the final round.

Flood, who scored 301 points in 60 appearances for his country between 2006 and 2014, told Lucky Block: “Ireland are fantastic and the best team anywhere. Everyone knows their job. They are a Rolls Royce of a team.

“The benefits of central contracting are there for all to see. They have a blueprint spread across the four provinces and players coming into the international system are fully aware of the rhythm and the way they play the game.

“All of these are things we in England don’t really think about. They just look like a powerhouse of a machine able to steamroller everyone.”

“Borthwick can’t keep saying England are evolving”

On their last Six Nations visit to Twickenham in 2022, Ireland won 32-15 after Charlie Ewels was sent off with just 82 seconds on the clock.

The Irish also beat England 29-16 in Dublin to claim their fourth Grand Slam in last year’s competition.

Flood added: “England need to start winning these big games. There seems to be a disconnect between the players and how they perform on a Premiership weekend and how they play at international level.

“Steve Borthwick can’t keep saying England are evolving.

“He has had 20 games now and they haven’t had a bad last 10 matches, but fundamentally it is going to be tough to play Ireland and go to France and pick up a result.

“The game in Twickenham is as big as it gets. It will define England’s season and if they can take a scalp fantastic, but no-one expects that.

“If they did manage to, there would be a huge amount of self-belief in the squad.

“England’s attack is not a smooth-running machine, but then I don’t think anything is – you can pull it all apart.

“The great England teams of the past were always dominant in the scrum, maul and set piece but they aren’t at the moment, they are not feared as they used to be. It is all a bit clunky and a work in progress but there are green shoots coming up.”

“England must role the dice”

Exteter’s Immaunel Feyi-Waboso is set to make his first-ever England start on Saturday.

The 21-year-old wing has only made three appearances in white, but crossed the line for the first time in England’s 30-21 defeat Scotland in the third round.

Flood said: “England need to roll the dice in the set up – why not start with Tommy Freeman and Feyi-Waboso on the wings?

“I know that would take out a huge amount of experience but Feyi-Waboso is someone who you really want to expose at the highest level.

“You have a bit of a rough diamond there who could change the game and you need that against Ireland because if you go toe to toe with them, and try to out muscle and outplay them, you are going to lose but if you try and break the game open there is a chance you can expose them.

“Ultimately England cannot realistically win the Six Nations now, so why not go out and see if they can play and put them in a situation in which they will test their mettle?”

Who starts at 10?

George Ford is set for the number 10 jersey on Saturday for England, but recently this selection has been a toss-up for Borthwick.

Harlequins’ Marcus Smith, who is yet to have a proper run at consistent fly-half starts, is also in the mix.

Flood agreed with the selection of Ford due to Smith’s ‘ring rust’, but mentioned that the 25-year-old offers something completely unique for his side.

He said: “George did not have a great game in Scotland, but it is difficult for a fly-half when your team is turning over the ball that many times.

“You can’t control the rhythm and the tempo of the game because it is so stop-start and you are gifting the opposition possession.

“To have Marcus back around the squad is something that will excite the squad because he does bring something completely unique in terms of what England can offer.”

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