Johnson excited by England challenge

New England team manager Martin Johnson said on Friday he was looking forward to getting England back to the top of world rugby.

“It’s a tremendously exciting time for English rugby,” the 38-year-old, captain of England’s 2003 World Cup-winning side, said at Twickenham in his first news conference since being named in the job on Wednesday.

“I’m really looking forward to getting on with the job and getting this England team performing at the level we can perform at. If we do that, there is every chance we can be beating most teams around the world. That’s where we want to be.”

Johnson said he had “sympathy” for Brian Ashton who was removed as head coach on Wednesday and has been offered a position in charge of the national academy.

However, he said he was ready for the challenge despite having no experience in coaching or management.

“It’s a fact that I have no coaching experience but I’ve got a lot of experience in rugby union over the last 16 years,” the former Leicester stalwart said.

“This game is always about players, not about the ego of coaches.
It’s about creating an environment where these guys can thrive and we can get the best out of them and create a team culture. I think I can be part of that.”

Johnson, who takes up his role on July 1, made it clear he is in total charge of the entire England playing set-up.

“I believe whoever is in charge, whatever you call him, needs to be that. In charge. The players have to know that guy is ultimately responsible,” he said.

“When I initially talked to elite rugby boss Rob Andrew, I made it clear whether it was me or whoever doing the job there is no other way for it to be done than for whoever is in charge to have full responsibility.

“The players would be very aware if that is not the case. They don’t care what it is called but that have to know who is in charge.”—Reuters

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