Johnson happy to have two good pivots - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Johnson happy to have two good pivots

By Adrian Warren 18/06/2010 04:19:08 PM Comments (0)

England coach Martin Johnson predicts talismanic back Jonny Wilkinson will still play a big part off the bench in Saturday's second Test against the Wallabies in Sydney.

Wilkinson, widely expected to be named in the starting XV for the ANZ Stadium clash, will instead have to settle for a spot on the bench in his first return to the venue where his drop-goal won the 2003 World Cup.

Johnson, Wilkinson's 2003 captain, has stuck with Toby Flood at five-eighth and is unrepentant about the decision, despite criticism from some quarters including ex-Wallaby Tim Horan.

Johnson even displayed a hint of dry humour at Friday's press conference when a journalist apologetically raised the Wilkinson issue again.

"I will talk about Jonny all day," he said.

"It's a 22-man game isn't it? All the guys came off the bench last week and they probably will this week.

"We are lucky to have two guys. Toby (Flood) is getting some valuable experience down here.

"Jonny performs at a high level consistently when he plays, so we're going to have them both. I'm sure he will play a big part in the game."

Johnson revealed he had told his players exactly what was required of them during a midweek meeting following last weekend's 27-17 defeat to Australia in Perth.

"You've got to come and play the best to improve and we had a chat in the week with the players about, now you've seen what the standards are, you've got to set your sights there and above as a player to get into the England side."

Johnson believed his players would have a better idea of what to expect after several of them got their first taste of Test rugby in Australia last Saturday.

"The fact that they played the game last week helps, they know what they are going into, the tempo," Johnson said.

"We've talked about these things after the match, the difference down here, in playing at the very highest level of tempo and intensity, so they know what they are going to face."

Asked about the tempo England wanted to play at, Johnson said: "We want to slow down theirs and increase ours, that is the game isn't it?"

Johnson said England played very well for parts of last week's game, but also stressed they needed to take more of their chances after letting a few slip in Perth.

"The game could have been very different, but could have been has been a little bit too common for us recently," Johnson said.

"We need to do better with our chances and not give them the shot that we did."

The England coach said recalled Wallabies backs Matt Giteau and Will Genia were obviously world class players, but he thought the men they were replacing, Berrick Barnes and Luke Burgess respectively, performed very well last week.

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