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Lancaster unable to persuade Flood to stay home for England

The Canadian Press

1/11/2014 12:07:05 AM

LONDON -- England coach Stuart Lancaster pleaded with Toby Flood to stay home for club and country, but couldn't change the flyhalf's mind.

Flood, with 60 caps since 2006 including two Rugby World Cups, was axed on Thursday when Lancaster named his squad for the Six Nations starting on Feb. 1.

Flood has decided to leave English champion Leicester, which he captains, for Toulouse after the season.

"I have met Toby several times and told him I really wanted him to stay at Leicester and play for England," Lancaster said. "He has made a lifestyle choice and we respect that, but given the RFU's policy of not selecting players based overseas save for exceptional circumstances it was important that we allow others such as George Ford to progress."

The uncapped Ford, from Bath, was called up in Flood's place, third in the flyhalves' pecking order behind Owen Farrell and Freddie Burns.

Ford, who has graduated through national age-group sides, was the youngest player to make his pro debut in the Premiership at 16 in 2009, and was the world young player of the year in 2011.

To cover for injuries to senior players Alex Corbisiero, David Wilson, Geoff Parling, Tom Croft, and backs Manu Tuilagi, Marland Yarde, Christian Wade and Ben Foden, eight Saxons were summoned: Wasps prop Matt Mullan, Sale tighthead Henry Thomas, Leicester lock Ed Slater, Exeter flanker Tom Johnson and winger Jack Nowell, Northampton centre Luther Burrell, Gloucester winger Jonny May and Bath winger Anthony Watson.

Lancaster still hoped most of the injured will be available for the summer tour of New Zealand.

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England: Forwards: David Attwood, Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley, Matt Kvesic, Tom Johnson, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Joe Marler, Ben Morgan, Matt Mullan, Chris Robshaw (captain), Ed Slater, Henry Thomas, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Rob Webber, Tom Wood, Tom Youngs. Backs: Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt, Mike Brown, Luther Burrell, Danny Care, Lee Dickson, Kyle Eastmond, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Alex Goode, Jonny May, Stephen Myler, Jack Nowell, Billy Twelvetrees, Ben Youngs, Anthony Watson, Richard Wigglesworth.