England v New Zealand, Twickenham, November 21
Smith backs Johnson to succeed
Scrum.com
November 16, 2009

New Zealand assistant coach Wayne Smith believes that Martin Johnson should be given credit for stepping up to the plate as England manager.

The former World Cup-winning skipper has been under huge pressure following poor performances against Australia and Argentina but Smith thinks that he has too much 'mana' to fail as a coach.

"When I was over here, Martin was pretty regal," he said. "He has got a huge heart and a lot of what we call 'mana' - spirit and respect. Because of that you can only think it will come right for him. Being a great player does not always translate to being a good manager but the qualities and values of a person does.

"He has got to transfer his skills and learn from experience, but that process is hard to accelerate. He is a quality person with great values and if I was a betting man, he would be the one I would back. I believe he will be successful."

Smith also hailed Johnson's bravery in accepting the call to coach England despite their lack of proven world-class talent. Smith's All Blacks are widely expected to wallop a below-par England at Twickenham on Saturday but the former Northampton coach still thinks that Johnson should be respected.

"If you love your country and you love the team that you have given so much of your life towards and you are asked to do it then that is what you do," he said. "It doesn't come down to personal egos. He has enhanced his reputation by putting himself on the line."

© Scrum.com

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