English Rugby
Johnson and Venter agree to disagree
May 19, 2010

England manager Martin Johnson has shrugged off criticism of his squad selection for next month's tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Saracens boss Brendan Venter was astonished that his club have failed to provide a single player to the 44-man squad while only three have been picked for the Saxons. Saracens could yet emerge as Guinness Premiership champions - they face Leicester in the Twickenham final on May 29 - and Venter is especially disappointed that centre Brad Barritt was reportedly viewed as "too small" by the England management, though Johnson has denied such a comment was made.

"I had a very good chat with Brendan about all the players and the choices we made with Andy Saull, Alex Goode and Brad Barritt," said Johnson. "Sometimes you must agree to disagree. All directors of rugby will want to push their players and it's their job to do that publicly. Nothing was said about Brad's size by me or my coaching staff.

"It's not like we don't rate Brad, he's in the Saxons. We rate him as a player. Saracens have some very good English players. Steve Borthwick has been in the team all the way through but he's injured now. We could have taken two or three other guys on the tour but there were other players that we thought were right at this time. Myself and Brendan agreed with most of what we've decided to do."

England will play two Tests against the Wallabies, on June 12 and 19, and also face two midweek dates with the Australia Barbarians. The world's third-placed side in the world rankings defeated England 18-9 at Twickenham in November and Johnson rates them highly.

"A lot of people wrote them off when they came here in November as not a great Australia team," he said. "We pointed out then they have a lot of good young players. Two years out from the World Cup they had some good results on their tour so they're a pretty decent side. Some of those guys are getting better and better."

The tour concludes against New Zealand Maori in Napier on June 23.

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