Toby Flood fires warning to England rivals

Desperate Flood fires warning to England fly-half rivals Hodgson and Farrell

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UPDATED:

17:25 GMT, 31 May 2012

Tour target: Toby Flood

Tour target: Toby Flood

Toby Flood is 'desperate' to reclaim
the fly-half jersey for England's three-Test series against South Africa
– after initially fearing he would miss the tour.

Flood damaged his ankle against Bath
on May 5 and then suffered a groin problem which forced him to pull out
of Leicester's Aviva Premiership final squad.

Leicester had been so anxious to keep
Flood's condition under wraps that England coach Stuart Lancaster
sparked a club-versus-country row when he commented on the situation.

Flood was 'devastated' to miss the
Premiership final but his focus is now trained on convincing Lancaster
he is the best man to run England's attack against the Springboks.

'It was devastating to miss the final because I had worked so hard to get fit. I'd done 10 or 12 cryotherapy sessions.

'It's great to be going on the tour
but in terms of where I am (in the pecking order) I will just keep my
head down, keep working and keep the dialogue open with Stu.

'I will have to try to impress in training and put my hand up. I'll have to try to scream and shout without acting like a spoiled brat, to try to get that shirt back.

'Every single player in this squad wants to be involved in that first Test match.

'It's an outstanding challenge for us and I'm desperate to put my hand up to be involved.'

Touch down: Head coach Stuart Lancaster and England players arrived in South Africa on Thursday

Touch down: Head coach Stuart Lancaster and England players arrived in South Africa on Thursday

Flood is England's most experienced player with 47 Test caps but he has not featured since the World Cup quarter-final, when he was inexplicably picked at inside centre with no preparation.

Flood had been the starting fly-half in England's 2011 Six Nations title triumph but injury cost him a place in this year's tournament, with Charlie Hodgson and then Owen Farrell filling the void.

When he overcame that knee injury, Flood piloted Leicester on a run of six consecutive bonus point victories as the Tigers charged into the Premiership semi-finals.

That made missing the final all the harder to bear, although England will be acutely aware of the quality of his performances at the back-end of the regular season. 'Before the injury I was really enjoying my rugby and Leicester were going well, playing really good stuff,' Flood said.

'To have that brought to an end so suddenly was quite difficult, it stung a bit.

'I would hope that we're coming here with a fresh slate and that it would be a factor that I played until the end of the (regular) season.

'The frustrating thing about being injured is that you feel like you're always trying to catch up and learn the ropes.

'I don't really know what Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi, Owen and Charlie have been doing because I haven't spent the time with them.

'I've not been involved, so the issue for me is to keep the dialogue going and see what they want.

'The best place to do that is out on the training field. The more time I can spend amongst them the better.'