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Page last updated at 12:14 GMT, Friday, 5 February 2010

Toby Flood replaces injured Riki Flutey for England

RBS Six Nations: England v Wales
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 6 February Kick-off: 1700 GMT
Coverage: BBC One, HD, Red Button, Sport website and Radio 5 Live.
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England and Brive centre Riki Flutey
Flutey was regarded as a key player for the Wales game

England centre Riki Flutey has been ruled out of Saturday's RBS Six Nations clash against Wales, with Leicester's Toby Flood coming in to replace him.

Flutey, 29, suffered a thigh injury in training on Thursday.

Flood takes the 12 shirt while Bath's uncapped rugby league convert Shontayne Hape is promoted to the bench.

"It is a blow because we picked Riki to play but the good thing is that Toby can play Test rugby in two positions," said England manager Martin Johnson.

"He has played a lot of Test rugby at 12. He played in a World Cup final. He is an experienced Test player now.

Borthwick relishing Wales challenge

"He has a good kicking game, he is very strong defensively, he can carry the ball well and can off-load. He has a good all-round game to play at 10 and 12 at this level.

"Of course you don't want to lose a guy on a Thursday when you have picked him, but it happens in rugby and we don't miss a beat."

New Zealand-born Flutey, who left Wasps for French side Brive after impressing for the British and Irish Lions last summer, had only just returned to the England fold after missing the November Tests.

And his injury is a major setback for an England side looking for creative inspiration following a disappointing autumn Test series in which they scored just one try in three games.

Flood last played for England in the 2009 Six Nations, guiding England to victory against France and Scotland from fly-half.

The 24-year-old, who will win his 27th cap against Wales, has established himself at fly-half since his move to Leicester but of his 14 starts for England, seven have been at inside centre.


Of those seven starts at 12, Flood has played six of them outside fly-half Jonny Wilkinson - who also starts on Saturday.

They are joined by a third former Newcastle Falcons team-mate, with Mathew Tait, now at Sale, starting at outside centre.

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley, who worked with Flutey on the Lions tour last summer, believes England will miss him.

"Riki is a catalyst for their back-line, with his ability to run, kick and pass, to make decisions and play in front and behind the line," said Howley.

"He is one of the players I admired on the Lions tour. It will be a miss for England, but Toby Flood comes in and he has got similar qualities."

Howley added: "I think England will come out and play.

"They've got a huge amount of talent, particularly in their back-line. I think it will be an open game of rugby, which is something we are looking forward to."

Wales have also had their injury problems this week with Lions duo Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees ruled out of the visitors' front row, the lighter Paul James and Gareth Williams starting at loose-head and hooker respectively.

Leicester back Toby Flood
Flood has scored 62 points for England

But they still boast another in-form Lion, Adam Jones, at tight-head, who will test Tim Payne's form on England's loose-head side.

"We are still going to have to scrummage whether Gethin Jenkins is playing or not," said Johnson.

"It is about the guys who are playing, not about the guys who aren't playing. It always is."

England players and coaches have all indicated there will be a greater liberation in terms of their style of play.

But Johnson warned that all the talk will mean nothing unless they can translate their words into actions against Wales.

"We have addressed the issues that we know we have had," added Johnson.

"We have been very honest about it as coaches and the players have been very honest about themselves as well.

"It has been good - but ultimately we need to turn that into a performance tomorrow.

"It is important we understand what we are trying to do but within that we have good players and you have got to let them play with instinct.

I don't think there should ever be any question marks over Martin Johnson's future

Former England skipper Martin Corry

"I am massively looking forward to it. This is a big season for us and a big year. We have put a lot of work into this game and we will get better game on game."

Johnson, who skippered England to World Cup glory in 2003, has had eight defeats in 14 Tests since taking over in 2008.

But former captain Martin Corry rejects any suggestion that Johnson's role could come under scrutiny if England have a poor Six Nations campaign.

"I don't think there should ever be any question marks over Martin's future," Corry, who retired from international rugby in 2008, told BBC 5 live.

"We should be backing him. Johnno will be leading England through the next World Cup [in 2011] and all the speculation should just stop. It's just going to be a debilitating factor."

Revised England team: D Armitage (London Irish); Cueto (Sale), Tait (Sale), Flood (Leicester), Monye (Harlequins); Wilkinson (Toulon), Care (Harlequins); Payne (Wasps), Hartley (Northampton), Wilson (Bath), Shaw (Wasps), Borthwick (Saracens, capt), Haskell (Stade Francais), Moody (Leicester), Easter (Harlequins).
Replacements: Thompson (Brive), Cole (Leicester), Deacon (Leicester), S Armitage (London Irish), Hodgson (London Irish), Hape (Bath), Foden (Northampton).

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see also
England 30-17 Wales
06 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Tackle laws concern for Williams
05 Feb 10 |  Welsh
Wales poised for Phillips boost
05 Feb 10 |  Welsh
Wales hit by Jenkins injury blow
04 Feb 10 |  Welsh
Johnson rejects Dallaglio remarks
02 Feb 10 |  English
Tait earns recall to England side
02 Feb 10 |  English
RBS Six Nations launch day
29 Jan 10 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations on the BBC
29 Jan 10 |  Rugby Union
Johnson labels squad his 'best'
27 Jan 10 |  English
Borthwick keeps England captaincy
25 Jan 10 |  English
Johnson senses England progress
21 Nov 09 |  English
Coaches insist England are united
17 Nov 09 |  English

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