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Johnson ramps up pressure on Wales


Coach Martin Johnson wants England to use Wales' winless run to their advantage

Coach Martin Johnson wants England to use Wales' winless run to their advantage

Coach Martin Johnson wants England to use Wales' winless run to their advantage

Martin Johnson has urged England to be ruthless in Friday night's RBS 6 Nations showdown and take full advantage of Wales' desperation for a victory.

Wales head into the championship without a win in seven Tests and Johnson has been quick to emphasise the pressure that will bring to bear on the home team. Johnson dismissed Warren Gatland's criticism of Dylan Hartley as the actions of a man under the cosh - and he wants England to turn that heat up.

He said: "If you haven't won for a long time, you get that feeling of 'when is the next one going to come from?' We can control that in the game. We must give them no easy outs, no easy scores. If we get into the last quarter with them behind, that is where we want to be. That is the mental side of the game that is very important."

Johnson added: "I told our squad last week in Portugal that a lot would be said because it's England-Wales and there's a lot of media space to fill over 12 days.

"They (Wales) have filled most of it. I don't mind. I like a spicy build-up to a game, it gets the blood flowing. Then we go and play. A rugby game is about who is playing not about who said what."

England have not won in Cardiff since 2003, when Johnson was captain, but they head into both the game and the Six Nations as favourites.

Johnson oversaw an encouraging autumn campaign, which included a record 35-18 home victory over Australia that lifted England up to fourth in the world rankings. South Africa dished out a brutal lesson in physicality a fortnight later but the coach believes that will stand his young side in good stead for the clash with Wales.

"There's certainly a different mood in the camp and I think that comes from winning some big games. There's a belief there that we can go and play against anyone and be successful," Johnson said.

"There's a certain confidence in the team that you get if you win some big games, or if you lose some as well but go through experiences. This is a big game. It's what you grow up watching as a rugby fan, I certainly did.

"We've got to set our standards very, very high so if we don't quite reach them we're still pretty good. The All Blacks win because their worst performance is still pretty good."

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