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Thomas stands by Johnson

Martyn Thomas, the Rugby Football Union's acting chief executive, has insisted he still has confidence in England team manager Martin Johnson and had never called for the return of Clive Woodward to the role.

Johnson's position is under scrutiny following England's poor World Cup campaign, which was undermined by off-field problems. His contract comes to an end at the end of the year and he is yet to tell the RFU whether he wants to be considered for re-appointment.

"He was never ever set a deadline, it was merely an informal situation, as and when you've made a decision as to whether you wish to carry on or not, let us know," Thomas told Radio Five Live. "I've not actually spoken to him since he left New Zealand but I have left him a message on his phone. He's had a torrid World Cup, a lot of it not of his making."

He added: "I've always expressed confidence in Martin. I believed he was the right appointment.

"I accept the fact he didn't have the coaching experience, but it was about getting a man in who could manage the process, who understood the process and would appoint the right coaches. I wait and see what the review says. That's my position."

A number of reviews into the World Cup failure have been commissioned, one by the Professional Game Board (PGB) and a second led by former England international Fran Cotton.

Rugby Players' Association is collating feedback from the England squad - it said it has received information from approximately 80% of it so far - and feeding it into the PGB review.

The RPA said the deadline for feedback was the end of October and they added in a statement: "The players have been extremely honest in their assessment of the unsuccessful 2011 Rugby World Cup campaign and they are adamant that England must be in the right shape mentally, physically and technically to mount a credible challenge to the 2015 Rugby World Cup."

Thomas insisted it had "never been his position" to bring Woodward, who led the team to World Cup glory in Australia in 2003, back and he added: "The media have said I wanted to bring Clive Woodward back to Twickenham. That is not my position, and it has never been my position.

"What I have said is that we should openly advertise and we should interview people. If at the end of the interview process Clive Woodward is the right man because he ticks the boxes for the interview panel, they believe him the right man, then he should be appointed."


From Belfast Telegraph