England shuffle the pack
ENGLAND vs GEORGIA
• Johnson freshens up his side to face Georgia
• Flood keen to make most of fresh opportunity
• Captain Moody makes comeback after knee injury
ENGLAND manager Martin Johnson will ring the changes ahead of Sunday’s clash with Georgia in an attempt to inject some fresh impetus into his side’s World Cup campaign.
The Red Rose were flat and lacking in imagination as they were drawn into an arm wrestle by a canny Argentina side in last weekend’s dour 13-9 win over the Pumas.
It was a performance far removed from their display against Australia in last autumn’s Test at Twickenham, which showcased an expansive brand of rugby that triggered a new wave of optimism amongst England fans.
And in a bid to restore that feel-good factor Johnson has reinstated the nine-ten axis of Ben Youngs and Toby Flood, whose exciting partnership played a key role in ensuring England ended an eight-year wait to win the Six Nations earlier this year.
Flood was Johnson’s preferred option at fly-half throughout the Six Nations campaign, but a loss of form towards the end of last season with his club Leicester culminated in him losing his place to Jonny Wilkinson for the World Cup warm-up matches against Wales and Ireland.
Wilkinson hardly did much to justify his manager’s faith against Argentina with an uncharacteristically wayward kicking performance, and Flood will now have the chance to stake a claim for the shirt against minnows Georgia tomorrow.
“It was really frustrating not to be part of the first win but you get over it pretty quickly and realise it’s a massive squad effort,” Flood said. “All I can do is go out there and try to prove them wrong on the decision they’re making.”
Kiwi-born Shontayne Hape will get the chance to impress in new-look midfield alongside Manu Tuilagi, who will hope he has more opportunities to impress with ball in hand than he did last week.
Johnson will also go with a completely fresh front row, set to include Matt Stevens and Alex Corbisiero, while skipper Lewis Moody will return to instil some passion and energy.