Leicester Tigers' Toby Flood set for battle with old mentor
As the final whistle blew at Welford Road yesterday, the meeting between arguably England's best two fly-halves was confirmed.
Leicester Tigers' 9-5 victory over French champions Toulouse secured a Heineken Cup quarter-final clash with Toulon – who have one Jonny Wilkinson among their ranks.
These two will be no strangers to one another either, having played together at Newcastle for four years and spent years sparring for the same England shirt.
Flood kicked all nine of Tigers' points yesterday as they qualified for the knock-out stage of the competition for the first time in two years.
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And the current England fly-half is relishing the prospect of meeting his former mentor.
"It's massive isn't it? It's the glitterati of world rugby," said Flood. "They've got some sensational players, and they've been playing really well this year.
"They are top of their league (the Top 14), which is no mean feat after seeing what Toulouse can produce today. So, it's exciting for us.
"We'll go away, we've got time to put it to rest, and then we'll come back in the next couple of weeks and attack it really hard."
Flood also acknowledged the effect Wilkinson had on his game.
"When I went through there, you'd end up punting and kicking at goal together and have conversations about those sort of things and, obviously, with the development of international stuff, he was a huge benefit to my game.
"It was the same as it is here. I do a lot of work with George (Ford) because us two No.10s do a lot of kicking together. It's normally in the same schedule and it was the same at Newcastle."
Flood gave his side a 9-0 lead on the stroke of half-time when Tigers were awarded a penalty inside their own half and the fly-half watched on as his kick sailed over the posts.
"I realised it was massive for us and had a big implication on the game," said Flood. "Deacs (Tigers captain Louis Deacon) kept asking me 'Are you sure?...Are you really sure?' So I thought, well, I had better kick it then.
"That nine points, two scores, is a big thing in these kind of games." Yesterday was not a day for the faint-hearted as the snow and the swirling wind made the contest very scrappy.
"I'm not going to whinge – it wasn't ideal," said Flood. "It wasn't the crisp, clean day with still air. It was a bit stodgy and, with the breakdown being slow, Toulouse were able to put a lot of pressure on anyone catching the ball.
"But it was just an attritional day. It was one of those days where you just have to dog it out, hang on in there, and do as much and as best you can for those guys around you."