Johnson out to enjoy himself
August 30, 2012
Exeter's Tom Johnson was one of England's stand-out performers during their recent tour of South Africa © PA Photos
Exeter flanker Tom Johnson is refusing to dwell on his outstanding contribution to England's recent tour of South Africa as he prepares for the start of the new Aviva Premiership season.
Johnson made his Test debut in the first Test against the Springboks in Durban earlier this year and was an ever-present in the keenly-fought series won 2-0 by the hosts. Widespread praise was heaped on the 30-year-old but he is not feeling the pressure ahead of a domestic campaign that will witness the Chiefs' Heineken Cup debut and the chance to tackle some of the best back-rows in Europe.
In contrast, he is determined not to take things too seriously as he plots his return to the international stage for England's testing end-of-year schedule. "One thing I learned from the summer was to go out and enjoy each and every game," Johnson told the Exeter Express and Echo. "I perhaps didn't do that as much last season, I put more pressure on myself. You have to get the balance right between enjoying the rugby and playing well.
"You've got to take it as a game of rugby, take it back to when you were a little kid and you just enjoyed playing the game. The pressure is then off a little bit and you play better because of it. I feel like I have got a real buzz back for it and I'm really looking forward to the start of the season now."
Johnson retained his place in Stuart Lancaster's Elite Player Squad last month but is taking nothing for granted ahead of England's clashes with Fiji, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand in November and December.
"People have asked 'would you like to be involved in the autumn internationals?' and that goes without saying," said Johnson. "Saying I'd like to involved will not get me involved, it's first and foremost training well with Exeter and getting in the match day squad.
"Good things have come to me because Exeter have done so well as a team. If we play well as a team and I do well in the systems we've got then I'm in with a shout. If I don't play well and don't get a spot in the team then England will fall by the wayside."
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