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England have come a long way – Johnson

22 March 2011

  • Martin Johnson analyses England in the RBS 6 Nations on RFU.com
  • You can’t manufacture the experience of this tournament says Team Manager
England Team Manager Martin Johnson chat to the media at Twickenham

Photo: Getty Images

After a couple of days to mull over England’s defeat to Ireland in Dublin, Martin Johnson was in positive mood about the experience his young side will have gained in both victory and defeat.

His side’s Grand Slam ambitions were ended by Ireland in a frantic opening 40 minutes at the Aviva Stadium, when they faced Ireland’s best performance of the series.

But with the 2011 RBS 6 Nations trophy safely ensconced at Twickenham, Johnson believes his team’s record of four wins from five, allied to the chastening experience of a defeat, can only be of benefit in the longer-term.

Speaking to RFU.com, he said: "In terms of where this team has come from, even in the last few weeks, never mind a year ago, it’s fantastic.

"You can’t manufacture the experience they’ve all got during this 6 Nations and to come out on top of a tournament which we said from the outset would be a very tight competition.

"They’ve come a heck of a long way and the great thing about the squad we’ve got at the moment is that it’s only going to get better, and significantly better, because of the age and relative inexperience of a lot of the players, added to their ability, character and personality.

"Sometimes you’ve got to take your scars and wear them – we certainly will with that but we’ll be better off for it. It was a horrible experience to have but also a good lesson to have."

Johnson expecting competitive world cup selection

England flanker Tom Wood in action against Ireland in the 2011 RBS 6 Nations

Photo: Getty Images

The recent 6 Nations campaign was notable for the continued breakthrough of young players, such as loose head prop Alex Corbisiero and flanker Tom Wood, who excelled on their first forays into international rugby.

Ahead of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand this September, Johnson names a initial training squad in June, before whittling the numbers down to a final 30-man travelling party.

While excited by the prospect of his first world cup as Team Manager, Johnson knows he faces difficult selection decisions given the talent he has at his disposal.

He added: "Going forward to the world cup we get a tremendous amount of time together in which to improve. It’s the only time we get to have a proper off-season together and set the standards.

"It’s really exciting as there’s a lot of young players come into the group and it’s going to be very competitive getting to the world cup [training] squad for June, never mind into the final 30.

"We’re now clear in that we know what we’ve got and we know what we’ll get from people. We know what the choices are but maybe there are combinations to look at, in the back five of the scrum particularly."

Johnson also reported that his captain for the first four games of the RBS 6 Nations, Mike Tindall, has undergone an operation on his injured ankle and is expected to return to action in 12 weeks.