Johnson unfazed by Tri Nations heavyweights

Johnson unfazed by Tri Nations heavyweights

Martin Johnson insists England should enter their autumn series undaunted by the prospect of facing the Tri Nations teams on successive weekends.

Once again England must contend with a punishing schedule with New Zealand, Australia, Samoa and South Africa visiting Twickenham in November.

This season’s Tri Nations has offered little comfort with the All Blacks winning all six matches and the Wallabies excelling on occasion.

But Johnson believes England, who defeated Australia in June, will compete if they hit the ground running.

“I’m not fazed by what I’ve seen in the Tri Nations, but what I’ve told the players is that we have to get back to Test match intensity from the start,” he said.

“When you play these guys they have the ability to score points quickly so we have to be right on our game from the start.

“You have to be able to handle 80 minutes of pressurised Test rugby to beat New Zealand. That is no secret.

“A lot of guys understand after winning in Sydney what it takes to win with an 80-minute performance.

“It would be good for us to have real continuity in what we did from the Six Nations through the summer tour and into November.”

England were beaten by New Zealand and Australia and narrowly defeated Argentina last November, but entered the autumn with a crippling injury list.

Half of Johnson’s first choice line-up was lost to the treatment room, including the entire front row, with players such as Nick Easter, Andrew Sheridan, Riki Flutey and Delon Armitage out.

But Johnson believes last season’s crisis had a silver lining.

“Last autumn there were a huge amount of injuries. There were something like 11 guys injured from the end of the Six Nations when we started the autumn,” he said.

“We’ve got better depth now in certain positions and the key is having the same core of players available from series to series because starting again is tough.

“There’s some good depth there and we now have real depth in positions such as tighthead.”

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