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VIDEO – Johnson: We must make an impact off the bench

07 March 2014

  • Exeter Chief not fazed by role in Wales clash
  • “We want to do ourselves justice” – Johnson

Tom Johnson may not have been involved in a Test match since England’s 20-14 defeat to Australia in November 2012, but the Exeter Chief is determined to make an impact from the bench during Sunday’s RBS 6 Nations encounter against Wales.

Johnson comes into Stuart Lancaster’s match-day 23 following an injury to precocious No.8 Billy Vunipola, some outstanding domestic form demanding inclusion for what would be a sixth cap.

Having demonstrated immense versatility over the course of his career, he will be covering all three positions across the back row and seemed eager to contribute at any opportunity.

“This means the world – it’s great to be back and I’ve really missed it,” Johnson explained. “It’s also great to see how the boys have developed. This is a fantastic England team and everyone is really excited.

“I’ve played across the back-row so I’m not fazed by it – it’s nothing new to me. I’ve had to get my head around learning the lineout calls in three different positions but that’s been done early in the week. ”

England back row Tom Johnson on the run against Cardiff Blues

Photo: Getty Images

The likes of Dave Attwood and Mako Vunipola have made influential cameos over the course of the tournament so far – one phenomenally powerful individual piece of maul defence for the former in the dying stages of the win over Ireland standing out.

Johnson acknowledged how important his role will be in that regard, and outlined how he intends to bring as much energy and industry as he can muster.

“We’ve seen how well the guys have been going in the first 60 minutes of games, but against Ireland the bench had a massive impact. I hope to carry that on this Sunday.

“You tend to come on with 10 or 20 to go, so the guys who have been flogging it for an hour sometimes need a pick-me-up. You can get a lot out of them by running around and making a few carries or tackles.”

On announcing his side to face Wales, Lancaster earmarked Johnson as a fantastic team man who effortlessly boosts morale.

True to form, the Chiefs veteran finished with an intriguing insight into the camp’s collective mood before this weekend’s pivotal clash.

“There’s huge excitement,” he said. “There’s a little bit of tension too, but only because the in terms of the boys want to put their whole game out there. We want to do ourselves proud.”