Toby Flood has openly admitted he is enduring a week from hell as England prepare to complete their RBS 6 Nations campaign.
Suffering a Calcutta Cup defeat to Scotland at the weekend was bad enough as England saw their RBS 6 Nations title hopes ended.
But Flood’s Newcastle and England colleague Jonny Wilkinson was then dropped, before their club boss John Fletcher and the Falcons parted company.
Flood is also facing up to the prospect of an operation - possibly at some stage this season - to rectify an ongoing knee cartilage issue.
Flood said: “I am fine to play this weekend, but more than likely I have got a bit of cartilage floating around my knee that’s loose, so it is probably going to be an operation some time soon.
“It has been one of the worst weeks in my life, I have to admit.
“To lose to Scotland and then find out a few days later about a guy who I have played rugby for since I was 11 years old and literally has followed me through my career, is just devastating."
Fletcher was a youth development officer when Flood’s rugby career first came under his direction, and there is unstinting admiration for him from the England star.
Flood added: “He was very much handed that squad and he was building it. The signings he made have been top-notch, and we were looking good. The guy has been such a mentor to me, it’s even harder to take.”
In the meantime, Flood will focus on helping England try to sign off their RBS 6 Nations season by toppling an Ireland side similarly lacking form or consistency.
He will also have a new fly-half alongside him in the shape of 20-year-old Wasps prodigy Danny Cipriani.
Flood added: “I’ve not played alongside Danny before. These things can sometimes take time, but Danny is a very good player who has played well this season.
“It is a case of him just slotting in there really, and just bringing what he brings to the team.
“Danny has got all the exuberance of youth, you can see he has got that spark about him. He will try things off the cuff.”
Cipriani for Wilkinson represents the solitary change from events at Murrayfield, and Flood said: “Brian has said he thinks his form has been inconsistent but, to be honest, you could say that about the whole team.
“I have been pleased with parts of my form and disappointed with others. Sometimes, I’ve found it very difficult to put my mark on the game, and it has been hugely frustrating.”