Toby Flood has revealed that he is aware of the threat posed by Morgan Parra ahead of Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final between England and France at Eden Park.
Flood – who is likely to be once again named among the replacements for the match with Johnny Wilkinson recovering well from a knock sustained against Scotland – rates the Clermont Auvergne back highly even though he is being played out of position at stand-off rather than as a scrum-half.
“I really rate Morgan. I think he’s an outstanding player and hard done by in last year’s Six Nations when he went to Ireland, kicked everything, and was dropped the week after playing us,” Flood said.
“We’re fully aware of his threat, although number 10 is a new position for him, it’s slightly different, but being French the nines and tens have this ability to swap over.”
The Leicester playmaker said Parra, who was switched from scrum-half to fly-half by France coach Marc Lievremont during the tournament, was an inventive player capable of finding holes in the English defence.
“He’s like all French players, he has the ability to do something we’re not expecting and having a nine at ten can open your eyes to different ways of breaking us down,” he said.
France have been beaten by hosts New Zealand and, more surprisingly, Tonga with their new fly-half but Flood said: “They’ve lost the last two he’s played there, but Parra has actually played pretty well.
“It’s probably that as a side they don’t quite have the right momentum.”
Flood, who came off the bench to play a brief but important role in last week’s win over Scotland, may be in the starting line-up when England name their team on Thursday, with the fitness of both fly-half Jonny Wilkinson (elbow) and inside centre Mike Tindall (leg) uncertain.