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Flood: England must make semi-final

Toby Flood insists that reaching the Rugby World Cup semi-finals has to be England's minimum requirement - and from there "anything can happen".

The RBS 6 Nations champions are currently ranked fifth in the world, behind the All Blacks, South Africa, Australia and Ireland, but they have a favourable draw. England will be expected to top their pool which includes Scotland and Argentina, setting up a potential quarter-final showdown with France.

"Our goal is to reach the semi-final," said Flood, the Leicester and England fly-half who is also a mentor in Disney XD's Aim High scheme.

"That is our minimum requirement. I would be very disappointed if we don't get that far.

"Obviously our aim is to win the World Cup, we want to go as far as we possibly can but to win a trophy you have to take it one stage at a time.

"If you can make the semi-finals then anything can happen. You are one game away from the final and you can readjust your goals from there."

England won their first Six Nations title since 2003 this year despite stuttering over the later weeks of the tournament and eventually losing to Ireland in Dublin, costing them the Grand Slam.

Flood admits that setback taught England a brutal lesson in the need to keep evolving their game, particularly in tournament rugby, rather than rely too heavily on the same game-plan.

"That is hugely important," said Flood. "We started the tournament fantastically and we were playing in a certain manner but the Dublin weekend taught us the need to evolve as a squad, that we need to make better judgments.

"We need to be preparing specifically for that one game rather than preparing in general."


From Belfast Telegraph