No more excuses, says England rugby coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

No more excuses, says England rugby coach

Rob Woollard 28/10/2010 12:15:33 PM Comments (0)

England manager Martin Johnson believes the time for excuses is over as his team prepare to kick-off their countdown to the 2011 World Cup against the All Blacks next week.

After a difficult start to his reign, Johnson's England scored a breakthrough victory over Australia in Sydney in June which the 2003 World Cup winners are determined to build on during the autumn series.

With the World Cup in New Zealand less than a year away, England face a gruelling sequence of Test matches against the All Blacks, Australia, Samoa and South Africa over four weeks from November 6.

But while senior RFU officials have said two wins out of four would be an acceptable return, Johnson says his team will be going all out for victory in each Test match at Twickenham.

"You can't start settling for that," Johnson said. "We go into every game putting everything into winning that match and believing we are capable of doing it.

"You want to win every game you play. Every Test match for England is important and I would never give us the opt-out of saying, 'We are learning'.

"We prepare for every game as if it is the most important game in the world.

"Every time I have played the All Blacks you know you can play well against these guys and not get the result.

"I have said to the guys that if that happens it does not deflect what we are doing and there will be no knee-jerk reactions. I will not start dropping people or sacking people because of a disappointing result.

"We are very happy with the squad we have got. The tour in the summer really enabled us to narrow down the guys who can do it."

Johnson warned England's players must be prepared to "battle for their lives" against the All Blacks, outstanding during this season's victorious Tri-Nations campaign.

He also sought to keep a lid on the "feelgood factor" left over from the victory over the Wallabies earlier this year, only the third time England have ever beaten Australia on their home turf.

"We don't want too much of a feelgood factor, we are playing the All Blacks," he said.

"Whenever you are playing a Test match you have to get that balance right - a confidence and belief in what you can do but we have got to battle for our lives. That is what Test match rugby is.

"Whatever the talk of expectations for this autumn, we put our heart and soul into winning on Saturday. Sydney showed we can do it but we have got to be consistent now."

Johnson said England had learned a key lesson from the summer tour, when they contrived to lose the first Test against Australia in Perth despite dominating the scrum.

England, Johnson said, would need to hit the ground running against the All Blacks.

"We can't take our time getting going against New Zealand because it will be too late," said Johnson.

"We played well for 55 minutes in Perth but it was too late. We were 14-0 down and couldn't get it back.

"New Zealand are the best team in the world at turning pressure into points. We don't do it well enough."

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