England v Ireland, Twickenham, February 27
Johnson in defiant mood
February 24, 2010
England manager Martin Johnson talks to the media following his team announcement © Getty Images
England manager Martin Johnson has refused to apologise for his side's perceived lack of creativity and insists they will do whatever it takes to beat Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday.
Johnson's side were subject to widespread criticism for a one-dimensional performance against Italy in Rome with much of the blame laid on fly-half Jonny Wilkinson. But Johnson has reminded the team's detractors that they head into the pivotal clash against last year's champions unbeaten.
"We don't need to get caught into thinking we need to prove people wrong or play a style of rugby because that's what people think we should do," said Johnson after announcing his side to take on the Irish. "When you win, generally you don't make apologies for how you do it, although we seem to have had to occasionally.
"If we have to kick for 80 minutes we will do that, if we have to run for 80 minutes we will do that. We need to make good decisions based on what's in front of us on the day. We will need to be bloody good in all areas to beat Ireland."
Johnson has given Wilkinson and the rest of his side a vote of confidence by naming the same side that laboured to a 17-12 victory in Rome. "I find the amount of criticism that has gone Jonny's way a bit surprising and disappointing. I think it has gone over the top," said Johnson. "Our failure to put some of those chances away (against Italy), was that because of Jonny Wilkinson? No, he is part of the team like everyone else is. I have a wry smile when I read some of those articles. I don't think I have to sit here and defend Jonny for what he has done in rugby."
Ireland arrive at Twickenham with their Grand Slam defence in tatters after a 33-10 defeat to France in Paris last time out. "We have all been to Paris and come away with our tails between our legs," added Johnson. "I thought France played very well. Ireland will take that to heart and the only way of putting it right is the next game. We did some good things against Italy but we didn't finish them off. Maybe it is not a bad thing to have a game like that at times, it keeps everyone on edge."