England lock in Wales, Ireland World Cup warm-ups
August 12, 2010
Martin Johnson liked what he saw at the Twickenham open training session © Getty Images
England will face Wales in a double header before taking on Ireland at the new Aviva Stadium in their final Tests before next year's World Cup in New Zealand.
Martin Johnson's men will fine-tune their tactics and combinations against Wales in Cardiff and at Twickenham on August 6 and 13, then enjoy a rare week off before their final preparation match at the new Landsdowne Road on August 27, two weeks before their first World Cup fixture against Argentina in Christchurch.
Johnson admitted he was leaving minimal time for recovery, travel, timezone adjustment and match preparation between the Ireland fixture and the Argentina opener, but the England manager said he wanted his team in match condition going into the tournament.
"It is going to be tight but with Argentina as the first game we felt we needed a game two weeks before, not three weeks before," said Johnson.
England launched their punishing 13-month build-up to the tournament this week with a pre-season training camp at Twickenham. Johnson's men will tackle New Zealand, Australia, Samoa and South Africa in November before heading into the Six Nations and then those three summer Tests - all on top of a hectic club programme.
"There won't be much pause for breath between now and then. This time next year we will be playing warm-up games for the tournament," he said.
But Johnson insisted his squad will not suffer from the fatigue which Fabio Capello partly blamed for England's disappointing football World Cup performance in South Africa.
"We don't go on tour next summer so we get a rest at the end of the season," he said. "The guys in the EPS (elite player squad) get their breaks as in the agreement. There are seven Saturdays during the season they won't be playing.
"We also have the ability to make sure they don't play if we don't think they are fit. It has worked pretty well and if you look at the number of games the guys have played not many have been 30-plus over the last two years. Our guys work incredibly hard making sure they stay fit."