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Johnson sidesteps contract issue

Martin Johnson is thriving on the pressure of managing England at the Rugby World Cup - but all talk of his future in the job will remain on hold until after the tournament.

Johnson's contract expires in December and he agreed with former Rugby Football Union chief executive John Steele that no discussions over a new deal would begin until after the showpiece event in New Zealand.

Steele has since been drummed out of Twickenham and Johnson said: "I haven't thought about (my future). We're just here trying to win a tournament. It's not an issue. I'm very happy with the situation and the World Cup doesn't change anything."

Johnson captained England to World Cup glory in 2003 but he has found the pressure on his shoulders as a manager to be varied and challenging.

His record since taking hands-on charge of England in the autumn of 2008 is 19 wins from 35 Tests, including a Six Nations title and back-to-back triumphs over Australia.

However, over the last fortnight, Johnson has had to answer questions on bungee-jumping, boozing, dwarf-racing, royals, summit meetings, suspensions and injuries - all while preparing England to face Romania on Saturday.

"There's never a dull day," Johnson said after putting England through their final paces at the Otago Stadium.

"Being coach is a different pressure (to being a player). It's enjoyable isn't it? It's what we're here for in a World Cup.

"World Cups are about pressure - handling it, dealing with it, reacting to it the right way. It's why you get into it.

"We know what it's all about. On and off the field, we've had some things to deal with and we've dealt with them. It's been good, I've really enjoyed it. It's been a good World Cup."


From Belfast Telegraph