Rugby World Cup 2011: Argentina 'want Flood over Wilkinson'

By Ben DirsBBC Sport in Dunedin
Ignacio Fernandez-Lobbe
Lobbe made 65 appearances for Argentina over 12 years

Argentina would prefer to see Toby Flood starting at fly-half against them for England in Saturday's World Cup encounter, according to Pumas legend Ignacio Fernandez-Lobbe.

England manager Martin Johnson must choose between Flood and Jonny Wilkinson for the Pool B clash.

"Argentina would love to see Flood in the side, and not Wilkinson," said Lobbe, who played in three World Cups.

"Wilkinson is amazing - he's one of the top three fly-halves in the world."

Toulon number 10 Wilkinson, who dropped the winning goal when England won the tournament in 2003, played second fiddle to Leicester's Flood during this year's Six Nations.

However, following below-par displays in the Six Nations finale in Dublin and England's warm-up match against Wales, Flood was replaced by Wilkinson for the final pre-tournament run-out against Ireland in the Irish capital, which England won 20-9.

As such, the 32-year-old Wilkinson, who is playing in his fourth World Cup, is being tipped to start what could be a tricky opener for Johnson's side in Dunedin.

Lobbe, formerly of Sale and Northampton and who played for Bath last season, added: "If I was Martin Johnson, I would play Wilkinson, because Flood has weaknesses."

Argentina beat England 25-18 at Twickenham in 2006, and Lobbe was quick to point to an error by Flood - on his debut - as his errant pass allowed Federico Todeschini to score.

"Remember when we played England at Twickenham and beat them?" he added.

"That excellent pass interception? That was Toby Flood - thank you very much.

"He's a great player for Leicester, when his pack is going forwards, but the World Cup will bring a different pressure and it won't be as easy for him.

"We'll see how he copes, if he starts against Argentina. Wilkinson is a better player for England, he has the ability to win a game on his own."

As well as being an integral part of the World Cup-winning side in 2003, Wilkinson also led England to the final in 2007 and has scored the most overall points in the tournament's history.

The 26-year-old Flood, in contrast, has played only three World Cup matches and is yet to score a point.