English Rugby
Johnson relishing the year ahead
ESPNscrum Staff
December 3, 2010
England manager Martin Johnson finds reason to smile ahead of his side's clash with the Wallabies, England v Australia, Twickenham, London, England, November 13, 2010
Johnson's side produced their best performance of the year in victory against Australia last month © Getty Images

Martin Johnson has hailed the progress made by England in the last year and has backed them to kick on in 2011.

England finished the year with a record of just five wins and a draw from their 11 Test outings this year including two victories last month against Samoa and most notably Australia. The 35-18 demolition of the Wallabies at Twickenham was the most encouraging performance for Johnson as his side look to capture the Six Nations title for the first time since 2003.

Johnson, however, is cautious over making predictions over whether they can challenge at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand later in the year. "Ten months is a long time in rugby. Look what's happened in the last year to some individuals, never mind the team," he said. "The team that was decimated by injury for 2009 has been rebuilt with some new guys who have come through.

"This time last year Dan Cole, Ben Youngs, Chris Ashton and even Courtney Lawes weren't nailed on to start for their clubs. Now they've come off a run of six tough Tests against the best teams in the world and they're starting to understand what it takes to play at this level.

"I'm looking forward to the Six Nations. That will be a heck of a series as it always is. Seeing how quickly this team has developed in the last year, it can develop equally quickly in the next year.

"Whether that is enough for the World Cup, we'll see when we get there. In my experience you only win it if you get into one game and that's the final. We'll worry about it if we get to the final.

"There are seven or eight teams who can beat any side on their day, but what you want is for that day to be more often than not. This is definitely a far better team today than it was on November 5, the day before we played the All Blacks, in terms of our understanding of what Test match rugby's about. We have a very good squad which is very competitive."

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