FALCONS boss John Fletcher is delighted his talented trio of Jamie Noon, Jonny Wilkinson and Mathew Tait have been named in the England World Cup squad.
Fletcher’s joy, though, was tempered by the fact the versatile Toby Flood, who was very much part of the England scene last season, has missed out.
“It’s great news for the club to have such a strong representation in the England squad, “ said Fletcher yesterday.
“I’m delighted for all three of the lads and I’m sure they will be a credit to their country during an exciting period of time for them.
“Their involvement backs up everything we stand for here at Newcastle, bringing through talented English players and we wish them all well in France for the duration of the tournament.
“Toby is bitterly disappointed, understandably so, but he has taken it on the chin and shown great maturity in dealing with the situation.
“He trained with the Falcons squad today and will now be added to our plans for the early part of the season, but he will remain on England’s radar in the event of injury and they know they have a quality player here ready to step in.”
Former England centre Fletcher added: “I’m a fiercely patriotic person and like everyone else in the country I’ll be cheering for England all the way.
“A World Cup is always an exciting time, but to have three Falcons players involved, all of whom have come through our academy, makes it extra special.”
Noon’s performance in the defeat by France at the weekend clinched his spot and after missing out last time, he is delighted Tait will also be happy to have made it as he was also touch-and-go a few weeks ago. Wilkinson was a banker to be involved.
Flood is especially unlucky and it looks like he’s paid the price for the RFU not being able to ditch ex-Great Britain rugby league captain Andy Farrell – who has been named after making just four Test appearances.
Farrell has been widely criticised for his lack of pace and although it is said he offers considerable leadership qualities and the mental toughness head coach Brian Ashton is looking for, England could rue the absence of Flood’s mercurial breaks and solid goal kicking should anything happen to Wilkinson
The survivors from England’s 2003 World Cup-winning side are Lawrence Dallaglio, Phil Vickery, Mike Catt, Jason Robinson, Josh Lewsey, Jonny Wilkinson, Andy Gomarsall, Mark Regan, Martin Corry, Ben Kay, Lewis Moody and Joe Worsley.
Ashton said: “I’ve had to make some very difficult decisions. I’d like to thank all 47 members of the original squad who all put in a tremendous amount of effort into their work with us and their attitude throughout has been first class.
“I spoke to each of the players who would not be involved in the final 30 and they were all obviously very disappointed, but I stressed they could be invited back if a member of the squad suffers an injury.
“Mike Tindall has worked very hard to recover from his injury and he was running last week. But it was agreed by the coaches that he and Charlie Hodgson – who is fit but, like Mike, has not played top level rugby for a number of months – could not use the final warm-up test or the World Cup pool games as part of their rehab.
“Both of them have done everything that has been asked of them and I wish them both well – and the other players who have not made the final 30.”
Ashton will announce the team today to play France in England’s final warm-up game.