Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Johnson buoyed by England progress

Martin Johnson

Martin Johnson is delighted with England's progress this autumn and is excited by their potential if they continue to develop so rapidly.

England won just two of their four matches last month but the manner of their 35-18 victory over Australia was hugely encouraging. The series ended with a hard-fought 21-11 defeat by South Africa, who were fired up by their shock loss to Scotland the previous week.

"Ten months is a long time in rugby. Look what's happened in the last year to some individuals, never mind the team," Johnson 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."

He added: "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 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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