June International Tours

Martin Johnson knows what is expected of England



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New England boss Martin Johnson says that he accepts that he will be judged by the same criteria as any other coach as he begins the task of reviving the team’s fortunes.

England’s only World Cup-winning captain also says that his playing feats will be worthless if England’s form does not improve.

It won’t be easy for Johnson who faces a punishing schedule of four Tests in four weeks against the Pacific Islands, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand in November.

“I’m aware of the perception of what I’m expected to bring to the job but ultimately it comes down to how well we play on the pitch,” he told the BBC.

“That’s how I’ll be judged. I’m here to make this team and the players better.”

Johnson’s official start to his new role comes a couple of week after England’s disappointing tour of New Zealand where they were beaten twice and the team was surrounded by an alleged Sex Scandal that was supposed to have involved four players in their rooms.

Johnson, 38, is respected around the world for his achievements as a player which include being the only player to have led the British & Irish Lions twice and being the only Northern Hemisphere player to captain a world cup winning team.

“The players will know in no uncertain terms where they stand,” Johnson told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Any player who is not aware of his responsibilities – and the dangers of what can happen – is probably not bright enough to be in the squad.

“The allegations made against the England team were serious – we can’t have that for our players, for our team, for our sport.

“It is not what we are about. The England team has never had it before and we should never have it again.”

Johnson however says that there were some positives that came out of the tour to New Zealand.

“All the personnel on the tour now know what it’s like to play top-level Test match rugby,” he said.

“Two matches against the All Blacks in Auckland and Christchurch is as tough as it gets. It’s not going to get any more difficult for those guys than what happened in the second week of that tour.”

“It’s probably the toughest set of Test matches that any team I’ve ever been involved in has ever played,” he said.

“That’s the challenge in front of us and there’s no point trying to shirk it – it’s going to happen and we have to be ready.”

Johnson named his first 32-man elite squad on Tuesday and it had a few surprises and he said that next season’s Experimental Law Variations (ELVs), which are designed to increase the amount of time the ball is in play were a factor in the selections.

“A lot of thought and detail went into the squad,” said Johnson.

“The ELVs were a factor: we will have to look at our line-out, which is why we went for (lock) Nick Kennedy.

“And we will need to play, move the ball wide and get around the field, which is why (winger) Tom Varndell got the nod. New Zealand showed us where we need to get to.”

Former Australia and South Africa’s Technical assistant coach Eddie Jones who is now director of rugby at Saracens said that drastic action was needed to get England up to speed with the southern hemisphere sides.

“English rugby has gone backwards over the last four years,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“There are some very strong parts of the game, the scrum and line-out especially, but they don’t take advantage of it and the attack is all over the shop.”

Johnson’s former Leicester, England and Lions team-mate Neil Back said that the players would know exactly where they stand under the new regime.

“He’ll be very honest with the players. He won’t mince his words,” said Back.

“The players will be clear where they stand in his thoughts and what they need to do to get into the 22 and how he’s going to help them do that.

“He’ll give them

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