Argentina giant Juan Fernandez-Lobbe is hoping Martin Johnson decides to start with Toby Flood ahead of Jonny Wilkinson in England’s opening World Cup match with Argentina on Saturday.
“Argentina would love to see Flood in the side, and not Wilkinson,” said Lobbe. “Wilkinson is amazing – he’s one of the top three fly-halves in the world.”
“If I was Martin Johnson, I would play Wilkinson, because Flood has weaknesses.
“Remember when we played England at Twickenham and beat them [in 2006]? That excellent pass interception? That was Toby Flood – thank you very much
“He’s a great player for Leicester, when his pack is going forwards, but the World Cup will bring a different pressure and it won’t be as easy for him.”
Flood was Johnson’s favoured choice in England’s victorious Six Nations campaign but the Leicester fly-half has seen Wilkinson edge ahead of him in the pecking order during the warm-up matches with Wales and Ireland.
Wilkinson is the top points-scorer in World Cup history while Flood, in contrast, has played three World Cup matches and is yet to score a point.
With Mark Cueto struggling with a back injury, England could have a very exciting back three of Chris Ashton, Ben Foden and Delon Armitage that lines up against Argentina.
Those three equal tries but should Richard Wigglesworth get the nod ahead of Ben Youngs as expected, and Flood start at 10, the England backs will struggle to find any quick ball to turn into tries.
Argentina, at 9/2 to win on Saturday, will want to keep the game as tight as possible and Johnson’s decision on who will start in the half-back positions will have a big bearing on this game.
If Wigglesworth and Flood start, take the 1/1 for Argentina to win with a +13 start but if Youngs and Wilkinson start, take the 5/1 for England to win by 16-20 points.