Australia 20-21 England, Sydney, June 19
Defiant Johnson is no quitter
June 19, 2010
England manager Martin Johnson surveys his side, Australian Barbarians v England, Gosford, Australia, June 15, 2010
A defiant Johnson insists he never contemplated quitting his post © Getty Images

England manager Martin Johnson insists he never contemplated quitting his job despite widespread criticism in the build-up to his side's historic victory over Australia in Sydney.

The former England captain was under growing pressure following the 27-17 defeat to the Wallabies in the first Test in Perth where the team packed punch but produced very little flair. However, his side conjured an impressive return to form at the ANZ Stadium where a Jonny Wilkinson penalty sealed a 21-20 success on the same ground where the England fly-half's extra-time drop goal secured victory in the 2003 World Cup final over Australia. It was only the third time that England have beaten Australia Down Under and the first victory against a Tri-Nations team since Johnson's reign began in 2008.

"I never came close to thinking about packing it in. Not seriously. Never," he told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme. "When you're being criticised you just get on with it and get through it. You judge yourself and I'm my harshest critic. My coaches will tell me if I'm doing things wrong and that's the way it should work."

Johnson hailed the impact of scrum-half Ben Youngs, who scored a try on his first Test start, and now hopes the team can build some momentum ahead of next year's World Cup in New Zealand.

"What it will do is give the guys a belief that they can win Test matches down here (in the southern hemisphere)," added the 40-year-old. "What we need to do whatever happens in the next few days is to go away from here and understand how we can get better with the World Cup just 15 months away. The players have to have the hunger and be self-critical.

"Ben Youngs is a classic example of that. He has come in, competed and done very well. Hopefully now he will go away and say 'Right, come on now, if we work that little bit harder we can come down here and win again'."

England victory had an element of luck attached with Australia fly-half Matt Giteau missing two second half penalties - the latter of which was from 18 metres out and directly in front. But the Wallabies' playmaker, who contributed all of his side's points in Sydney, found immediate support from Wilkinson.

"Everyone goes there at some point," he said. "I would class myself as being in a very, very good position to make comment and that comment is that there's nothing harder in the game than to stand up each week and take the shots. And when that happens, which it does to everyone, it takes even more strength to stand up and go on and something he does is stands up and goes on every time. It's just one of those things that happens once in a very, very blue moon and when it does it's tough to take but like I said I've done it more times than he has."

Asked to describe the pressure associated with taking a match-winning kick, he added, "It just takes enough strength just to stay stood. Your knees buckle a bit and you just want to take it quickly, you just want to get out of the situation but you've got to get on."

Afterwards Giteau revealed his disappointment at his miss, saying, "Well that's not my proudest moment but I mean these things happen so you've just got to move forward."

The Wallabies night was further soured with the news Digby Ioane was set to be sidelined for an extended period after dislocating his shoulder in the 63rd minute of the match. The powerful winger will undergo surgery this week which is likely to rule him out of the upcoming Tri-Nations tournament. Half-back Will Genia will have scans on his injured hand today while centre Rob Horne suffered a knock to the elbow but is expected to make a swift recovery.

England round off their tour with a game against the New Zealand Maori in Napier on Wednesday.


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