England must ‘battle for their lives’ against NZ

Martin Johnson has told his players that they must be prepared to ‘battle for their lives’ when they face New Zealand at Twickenham next weekend.


England have a four match programme in November which starts with the All Blacks, followed by Australia, Samoa and South Africa.

 

Confidence is high as England won their last Test match which was in Australia.

“We don’t want too much of a feelgood factor, we are playing the All Blacks.” Johnson told Sportal.


“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.”

 

The new Rugby Football Union chief executive John Steele feels that two – maybe three wins from the four matches is a   ‘realistic expectation’.

 

Two wins would mean England must beat the lowest ranked of the quartet Samoa and then one of the TriNations teams.

 

Steele has tried to take some of the heat off Johnson’s management team who – according to media reports – could face the sack if England do not perform.

 

Johnson however wants England to do their best and to produce no excuses.

 

“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,” he said.

“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’.


“We prepare for every game as if it is the most important game in the world.


“Every time I have played 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.


“We are very happy with the squad we have got. The tour in the summer really enabled us to narrow down the guys who can do it.”

 

Whilst England beat Australia in Australia in their last outing the Aussies have lost their last 10 matches against New Zealand who England face next Saturday.

 

England will therefore need to be at their best just to contain New Zealand who are the highest ranked team in the world by some distance.

“We can’t take our time getting going against New Zealand because it will be too late,” said Johnson.


“We played well for 55 minutes in Perth but it was too late. We were 14-0 down and couldn’t get it back.


“New Zealand are the best team in the world at turning pressure into points. We don’t do it well enough.”

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