What began the week as a question of Jonny or Toby was yesterday shifting towards the idea of Jonny and Toby for England's World Cup quarter-final against France.

Jonny Wilkinson is getting over a bang on the right elbow from England's 16-12 win over Scotland but of as much concern in pragmatic terms is the formerly metronomic goalkicker's radar.

The man who drop-kicked England to cup glory eight years ago managed just three successful shots at goal from eight attempts in the opening scrape past Argentina; against the Scots he missed four of six.

Toby Flood's handy tournament thus far - including helping to set up the match-winning try against Scotland and kicking a cool-headed sideline conversion to boot - had him in line to replace Wilkinson should concern grow on either the injury or kicking fronts.


But the dead leg which has thrown a question mark over Mike Tindall making the start line at Eden Park this weekend has opened another possible avenue for Flood.

The 26-year-old Leicester back appears to have a nice knack of not getting weighed down about when/if his chance comes.

"All you can do is slip notes under the door when they're having selection meetings," he quipped.

Flood has played 45 tests; the 32-year-old Wilkinson has played 90.

Wilkinson has 1244 international points for England and the Lions, and needs seven more to regain the world record from Dan Carter.

Wilkinson's 275 cup points are an alltime record, 48 clear of next best Gavin Hastings, of Scotland.

If Flood does get the No 12 job when England's team to play France is named around lunchtime today, it will give England a second solid kicking option.

"It is exciting and I am not going to get too excited at the moment. I am just going to go on as I normally am," said Flood.


"You never wish anyone to be injured and by all intents and purposes, he [Wilkinson] will be fine and I think he is in a strong position. The [injured] arm looks good and he is happy."

Even if Tindall is fit, Flood would be an intriguing option anyway.

It was Tindall whom Flood replaced nine minutes from the end of the Scottish game.

Wilkinson scored all the points when England beat France 24-7 in the 2003 cup semifinal; and nine of the 14 in the victory at the same stage four years ago. So when it comes to World Cups and France, Wilkinson has previous.

"Maybe that is why you have to pick him. You want to be selected on current form, not on how eight years ago I was this and I was that. I was great when I was 12," said Flood.

"At the same time, you understand how some people have that ability against certain sides. There is an edge there and that will be on his side of the bar."

Flood knows England must hit the ground running on Saturday night; unlike the sloppy beginning against Scotland, which could have undone them but for his late intervention.

"We blitz from minute one. Then we play and we play and we play and we do not have the body language that we had on the weekend against Scotland.

"It is how you start. The first 20 minutes are hugely important."

England v France
Eden Park, 8.30pm, Saturday