- Johnson to build on summer tour experience
- Flanker has been developing new skills throughout Autumn
Tom Johnson is eager to keep hold of the no. 6 shirt during this year’s QBE Internationals and says that his test experience gained during the summer against South Africa will help him to raise his game.
The Exeter flanker is among a number of players vying to secure a back row position during the four-test series at Twickenham this autumn.
Captain Chris Robshaw and Northampton’s Tom Wood are just two of the options at head coach Stuart Lancaster’s disposal while England regular Tom Croft is sidelined with a neck injury.
Johnson was drafted into the line-up during England’s three-test series last June in South Africa. He impressed Lancaster and the England coaching staff with his ability to adapt to the physical nature of international test rugby.
The 30-year-old believes that his experience from South Africa will be invaluable during the QBE Internationals.
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“It was definitely a step up without a shadow of a doubt,” said Johnson. “But I didn’t feel like a fish out of water and felt I could hold my own to a certain degree. I have got three tests under my belt and need to try and replicate some of that form if I play this month.”
While Johnson has been characterised as a more direct running back row, he says that he has been working hard on developing new skills throughout in the build-up to this year’s series at Twickenham.
“I have always been known as a direct runner and still have that in my game but I have been concentrating on passing and moving the ball to space more,” said Johnson. “I think my hands have improved and the decision making of getting that ball to space has definitely got better.”
This year’s test series has an added edge to it due to the 2015 world cup pool draw taking place on December 3rd. England are currently fourth in the rankings and Johnson says the pool draw will give added motivation for the back-row to play well throughout November.
“We are trying to build towards the 2015 world cup and having the best back row available playing with each other week-in week-out and competing for that jersey will bring the best out of the side.”