TOBY Flood insists there will be no World Cup hangover when the Falcons take on high-flying Gloucester in the EDF Cup at Kingsholm today.
Just seven days after the World Cup Final, the 22-year-old England star will be in the No 10 shirt for the Falcons and he said: “It’s good to be back.
“I only got back in to training halfway through the week and I’ve had the crib sheets out trying to remember all the calls, but it’s exciting to be back and I’m looking forward to playing down at Gloucester.
“I guess time will tell what effect the World Cup has on my own performance as a player for Newcastle – we’ll only know that once I get back in to the games, but I hope that the experience has helped me develop and that we can see that translated in to my Falcons form.”
As Flood prepares to return to the Falcons side, he added: “Three wins out of six in the league without so many players is probably an improvement on how we’ve started some of our recent seasons, so the lads have given it a good go and we now have a new competition to get stuck in to with the EDF Energy Cup.
“We respect Gloucester for what they are and where they are in the league, but we go down there with no fear. Coming back into the squad this week I was actually astounded by how excited the boys were and how fast the pace in training was, so it’s nice to be back home and involved so quickly again.
“It’s not such a massive ask being thrown in so quickly because I’m not one of those people who would allow themselves to switch off mentally.
“Okay, I haven’t trained with the team as much as you would normally do for a game, but I’ll just go through my usual routine, do the same practice I would do for any match and come out pumped up as usual.”
Flood can look back with some satisfaction on a World Cup campaign it initially looked like he would not be involved in after being left out of the England squad – before an injury to Falcons team-mate Jamie Noon re-opened the door.
“When I first got out there for the World Cup the mood in the camp was pretty down after the pool result against the Springboks, but the guys progressed as the tournament went on and in the end I think reaching the final was a pretty good achievement,” he said.
“Every player would say they’d love to start games rather than be on the bench, but it was great to get on in the games that I did and ultimately to play in a World Cup final was pretty surreal. The one moment that kind of stood out for me wasn’t actually in one of the games, it was the week of the final practising my kicking at the Stade de France, and it was one of those rare chances when you get to take stock, take a proper look around the ground and think about the whole thing.
“During the games themselves it kind of flies past because you’re focusing so much, but that day in the stadium it definitely hit home with regards to what I was part of and how big it was.
“It was hard to see past the result initially because the stark reality is that you’ve got to a final and you’ve lost. Having said that, everyone had written off England before the tournament, so it was good to maybe quieten a few of the critics and show we were a team which pulled together when it hit the fan.”
Flood’s return at fly-half sees Steve Jones shift one place to inside centre for Joe Shaw, who misses the game due to illness.
Tom May is at full-back for Matt Burke and Ollie Phillips comes on to the right wing. Scrum-half Hall Charlton gets a first run-out of the season.
In the front row, a minor calf problem rules out Jon Golding as All Black Joe McDonnell returns to skipper the side from loose head prop. The only other change is at tight head, where David Wilson takes the place of Micky Ward.
Today the Falcons hope to continue their proud cup history, having appeared in three Twickenham finals in the past eight years – lifting the trophy on two occasions.
NEWCASTLE FALCONS: T May, O Phillips, T Visser, S Jones, J Rudd, T Flood, H Charlton, J McDonnell, M Thompson, D Wilson, A Perry, M Sorenson, G Parling, B Wilson, R Winter. Rep: A Long, M Ward, J Oakes, E Williamson, J Grindal, A Tait, A Dehaty.