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Flood backs Benjamin for England

Leicester captain Toby Flood has backed Miles Benjamin to break into the England squad after the wing capped his recovery from a serious neck injury with two tries in the Heineken Cup win over Montpellier.

Benjamin showed the form that led the club to sign him with two tries in two minutes as the Tigers saw off their French visitors 41-32 at Welford Road.

The result means Richard Cockerill's side kept up the pressure on Pool 5 leaders Ulster, who now lead Leicester by two points ahead of their return clash with Montpellier next weekend.

Benjamin, a 25-year-old winger, joined from Worcester in the summer of 2012 but fractured a vertebrae in his neck on his first appearance for the A League team last September, which led to 13 months on the sidelines.

But in his sixth Tigers' start, the Solihull-born flyer showed the class which could make England coach Stuart Lancaster pay him some closer attention with two tries against top-class opposition.

When asked if he thought Benjamin, who has represented England Saxons, has the pedigree to make the step up to the England squad, Flood said: "I think so. He just needs a run of games. It's tight for this Six Nations.

"There is a lot of quality there but a lot of that quality is getting injured. If he keeps putting his hand up I do think he's got a chance to be there and it would be a bit of a whirlwind year if he got picked in that squad and had a go in it.

"For me, he's got every attribute you want. He's in incredible shape, he's one of the fastest players I've ever played with and he understands the game really well.

"A credit to him is that he's going to get better and better in this side as people are going to ask more questions and want to see more of him and he's certainly got the potential to stand up to that."

Benjamin's two tries for Leicester came after Vereniki Goneva's opener, with Jamie Gibson's score sealing the bonus point in the second half as Flood kicked 18 points for the Tigers and Ryan Lamb added a drop goal.

Leicester had been leading 24-3 at one stage, but Montpellier fought back with tries from Mamuka Gorgodze, Timoci Nagusa and two for Pierre Berard as they claimed a try bonus point of their own.

Jonathan Pelissie also kicked two penalties and two conversions, with captain Francois Trinh-duc also adding a conversion.

Leicester director of rugby Cockerill was satisfied with the five points that keep the heat on pool leaders Ulster, but bemoaned a lack of accuracy at times in the high-scoring game.

"We wanted to play today and we took our opportunities to score those first three tries very well and then we had three or four more opportunities to score that we didn't take," Cockerill said.

"There were probably five or six tries left out there from both sides. We need to be more accurate.

"I don't think there will be as much life in the game next week than it was today but we'll see.

"We needed the five points and that was good for us. It keeps the pressure on Ulster but they're in the box seat. We've got to win next week at Montpellier really.

"We finish with Ulster here and we've still got Treviso which is no easy task either so there's a long way to go with some twists and turns. We'll see where we get to."

Cockerill also hailed try-scorer Benjamin, who he hopes will continue to make a similar impact in the side.

"We know he's got pace and he's still getting better every time he plays and another 80 minutes and the confidence of getting over the whitewash is massive," Cockerill said.

"We know he's a fantastic player. That's why we signed him. We've not got the best out of him and hopefully this will be the start of a long run for him."


From Belfast Telegraph