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Johnson wants no excuses

Martin Johnson has refused to settle for the target of two wins from England's four Investec autumn internationals that was set by Rugby Football Union chief executive John Steele.

England open their campaign against New Zealand at Twickenham a week on Saturday, followed by appointments against Australia, Samoa and South Africa. Steele admitted two victories would be a "realistic expectation" for an England side currently ranked sixth in the world.

But Johnson said: "You can't start settling for that. We go into every game putting everything into winning that match and believing we are capable of doing it. You want to win every game you play. Every Test match for England is important and I would never give us the opt-out of saying 'we are learning'."

He added: "We prepare for every game as if it is the most important game in the world.

"When you play the All Blacks you know you can play well against these guys and not get the result. I have said to the guys that if that happens it does not deflect what we are doing and there will be no knee-jerk reactions.

"I will not start dropping people or sacking people because of a disappointing result."

England head into the All Blacks clash buoyed by their 21-20 victory over Australia in Sydney.

But Johnson added: "We don't want too much of a feelgood factor, we are playing the All Blacks.

"Whenever you are playing a Test match you have to get that balance right - a confidence and belief in what you can do but we have got to battle for our lives. That is what Test match rugby is.

"Whatever the talk of expectations for this autumn, we put our heart and soul into winning on Saturday. Sydney showed we can do it but we have got to be consistent now."


From Belfast Telegraph