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Martin Johnson: Tough call for Chris Robshaw but I would have gone for goal

Published 30/09/2015

Martin Johnson, left, and Jonny Wilkinson, right, won the World Cup together in 2003
Martin Johnson, left, and Jonny Wilkinson, right, won the World Cup together in 2003

Martin Johnson insists he would have instructed Jonny Wilkinson to aim for the posts had he been presented with the opportunity offered to England captain Chris Robshaw to salvage a draw against Wales.

The World Cup hosts lost 28-25 at Twickenham after rejecting the chance for the in-form Owen Farrell to have a late shot at goal, albeit from close to the touchline, in favour of an attacking lineout.

The move backfired when England were bundled into touch and now they must defeat Australia on Saturday if they are to save their tournament from the abyss.

World Cup-winning captain Johnson sympathises with Robshaw over the choice he had to make, but knows his decision would have been different in those circumstances.

"I was thinking 'kick the goal', but then I had a left-footed kicker (Wilkinson)! Chris has had some tough calls in his captaincy. I don't think I had any as tough as that," Johnson said.

"If you had kicked it you would probably have got the ball back. You don't want to get yourself in those positions. Ideally you are in a different position. They are tough calls.

"I wasn't surprised when he went for the corner, but you have to execute it when you do that. The more disappointing thing for me was that we didn't execute it.

"We got smashed into touch. Then we had another lineout and we couldn't execute that either. It will be a loss they will always remember, that one."

Johnson believes England are capable of turning their World Cup around.

"All the way through the tournament people want to talk about who will win the World Cup, but you have to catch the lineout first. It always come down to the fundamentals," Johnson.

"The more under pressure you are, the more you have to execute your fundamental skills. We didn't do that well enough in the second half to win the game.

"Can we? Yes, we have shown we can. In the first half we did it. We have got to play that 80-minute game.

"The loser of that first big game in this pool was always going to be in a tough place. Accept the reality of it.

"A lot of this is getting together as a team and saying 'we can actually affect this, if we want it that much to go and do it'.

"It's about bouncing back from that. If you want to progress you've got to do that. As we've seen with South Africa, you can turn it round very quickly."

:: Martin Johnson is a MasterCard Rugby World Cup 2015 brand ambassador. MasterCard will be delivering Priceless Surprises to MasterCard card holders and rugby fans around the world.

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