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Page last updated at 10:47 GMT, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Flood applauds new Johnson regime

By Simon Austin

Toby Flood and Martin Johnson
Flood is vying for a place on the first team sheet of Johnson's reign

Toby Flood says he is impressed with changes made by Martin Johnson since he took over as England manager in July.

Flood, 23, is particularly happy with the improvements in communication between coaches and players.

"After every club game we have a chat with one of the England coaches, which is fantastic," he told BBC Sport.

"You used to have to wait a while to see what was happening with England. Now you feel closer to the set-up and get instant feedback, which is great."

The Leicester fly-half is part of Johnson's 32-man England elite squad and will be in line to play in the side's four November internationals, starting against the Pacific Islands at Twickenham on 8 November.

The squad is together this week for the first time since August, yet Flood says he and the other players have had a constant dialogue with England's coaches.

Brian Smith
Knowing Brian Smith is around the England set-up is fantastic

"That definitely fills you with a bit more confidence," he said. "It means that when you meet at camp, the ball's already rolling and you're not just getting used to all the ideas.

"The way England play might differ from the way, say, Leicester or Wasps play, so adjusting to a new style of play could take a while in the past.

"Most of the time we speak on the phone, but there have been a few occasions that Jon Callard (kicking coach), Mike Ford (defence) and Brian Smith (attack) have come to see me in person.

"They ask for your viewpoint and how you think the match went."

Flood also says he is looking forward to working with former London Irish director of rugby Smith, who took over as England's new attack coach in July.

"You only have to look at the way London Irish played to see the effect Brian can have on England, because they were a very attacking team," Flood said.

"It's very exciting. We want to challenge the opposition and stretch them and Brian will be at the forefront of that. Knowing he is around is fantastic."

Flood played at fly-half in England's last match, the defeat by New Zealand in the second Test in Christchurch in June.

The tour was overshadowed by allegations of sexual abuse against four England players and Johnson, who did not formally taken up his role as team manager until 1 July, moved quickly to create a new code of conduct in August.

"The code covers the way we want to play and behave and there was input from both the players and coaches," Flood said.

"We were very honest and they will remain our goals for a long time. The code covers basic stuff from timekeeping to how you should conduct yourself off the field.

"That New Zealand tour was tough, on and off the field, but we learnt a lot."

Flood is likely to vie with Danny Cipriani for the England fly-half berth in the November internationals.

He has played all of his matches for Leicester this season bar one - the defeat by Cardiff Blues in the EDF Energy Cup last weekend - in the number 10 shirt, but says he still sees himself as an "inside back" who is equally at home at inside centre.

"I'd be happy to play in either position," he said. "If I'm involved, I can't wait, because this a fresh start for England."

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see also
Tigers aiming for treble - Flood
24 Oct 08 |  Leicester
Johnson lays down law to England
14 Aug 08 |  English
England 'needed Johnson example'
23 Jun 08 |  English
England's new dawn under Johnson
18 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union

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