RUGBY : England manager Martin Johnson revealed his men are in “determined mood” heading into Saturday’s showdown with New Zealand, the final Investec Challenge of a tough autumn campaign.
England manager Martin Johnson revealed his men are in “determined mood” heading into Saturday’s showdown with New Zealand, the final Investec Challenge of a tough autumn campaign.
The critics have been out in force after two disappointing performances in the 18-9 defeat to Australia and last weekend’s laboured 16-9 victory over Argentina. World Cup-winning full-back Josh Lewsey and the former England captain Will Carling have both this week questioned the effectiveness of Johnson’s coaching staff.
But Johnson has been encouraged by the way his squad have responded to the criticism, and said: “You speak about the criticism. It is there, you can’t deny it and that comes with being a Test, particularly an England Test player. We critique everything we do. What is important to the guys is what they say to each other and they have looked after each other very well.”
He added: “The players have got to be encouraging to each other. There were times we did some good things on Saturday but we will need to play better if we are to win the game.
“New Zealand are never worse than very good. We need consistency as a group for 80 minutes. Pressure is what it is all about and you do that on the field by being a united group of players.
“If we didn’t have that we would have lost against Argentina on Saturday but they found a way to win the game.
“To beat the All Blacks you have to have a solid 80 minute game. They will get points on you at some point and you have to be resilient enough to bounce back.”
England will take a confrontational approach into the All Blacks game after Johnson recalled the powerhouse lock Simon Shaw, combative flanker Joe Worsley and awarded the hard-running centre Ayoola Erinle his full Test debut.