Vickery vows to reward England fans

Former England captain Phil Vickery has saluted England’s supporters and vowed to give them more to cheer in the future.

Speaking on the podcast Vickery thanked the Twickenham crowd after the fans got behind England, despite their defeat at the hands of the All Blacks.

“I’d like to thank our supporters,” he said. “They really got behind us and created one of the best atmospheres I’ve been involved in.

“We gave them a bit to cheer about at times but, ultimately, we failed and we can’t hide from that.

“You’re not going to win a Test match giving away that many penalties let alone having four guys in the sin bin. It’s hard enough work when you’ve got 15 players on the field let alone when you’re down.

“It’s harsh lessons for us but it’s something we’ve got to accept, deal with and more on from, and move on quickly.”

And it’s England’s second half performances that Team Manager Martin Johnson will be looking at first. “We were in all three games until half time and the disappointing thing for me is that after half time we conceded the killer score in every one.

“We’re only talking small margins of error but that made it difficult to come back and we couldn’t do it. We’re giving teams too many soft points and with them opportunities to win these games.

“Against the big three teams we only scored one try but against the Springboks in particular we created a huge number of scoring chances and I said to the players afterwards that I’ve beaten South Africa on two or three occasions and not created the combined amount of chances that we had in that game.

“We need to have the composure, skill and accuracy to take them.” But Johnson denied that wholesale change was needed. “We need to improve, change is the easy call.

“We’re trying to back these players to improve and get the experience and if we give them some caps and change them for some other guys and do the same thing, then in 18 months time we’ll be back in the same place. This is still an exciting group of guys, these games don’t change that.”

Despite the November results, All Blacks coach Wayne Smith shuns suggestions that there is a gap between the northern and southern hemispheres, saying, “there are different styles of play between the hemispheres but I don’t think one’s better, they’re just different.”

“Look at Scotland, they were 10-0 up against South Africa at half time and probably should have won it but for a couple of kicks.

“France could, and probably should, have beaten Australia last week. David Skrela missed five shots at goal and then got sin binned. There have been opportunities, we were down at half time against Wales and Ireland were close to us. We haven’t had an easy ride and every game has been a battle.

“But we’ve come out of a tough Tri-Nations playing at a very high level, that’s bound to give us an advantage over teams who have just come together. If you want a real measure you need a level playing field of when all teams are at their best and that’s what the World Cup is I guess.”

Smith also believes that Johnson has what it takes to turn things around in time for 2011, saying, “He is a great man. He’s going to have his challenges but I believe he’s got the credibility and the respect to be able to do it.

“England played with real heart and spirit. It’s difficult when you’ve got to try and put a game based on continuity and movement of the ball together at international level when you haven’t got them week in week out.”

With the 2011 Rugby World Cup draw now complete, Johnson knows the size of the challenge facing him in three years’ time. “It already looks like an exciting tournament,” he said.

“This is the first time England will play Scotland in the pool stages and that will be a heck of a game. I think some people think we have an easy draw but in Argentina we have the third pla

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