Johnson wary of Wallabies attack
November 9, 2010
Kurtley Beale is one of a number of exciting young Australian backs © Getty Images
England team manager Martin Johnson has warned his side they must match Australia's pace and intensity in the opening minutes of Saturday's Cook Cup clash if they are to avoid a repeat of their defeat to New Zealand last week.
England's hopes of victory in their autumn international opener against the All Blacks were all but dashed last weekend when they allowed the tourists to storm into a 14-0 lead. And Johnson knows his team must improve in defence, especially against an Australian backline he thinks are even more dangerous than the All Blacks.
"We can't do that again this week against Australia," he said. "You can't let a team like that get a jump on you as they are very good. In some ways they (Australia) are more dangerous than the All Blacks in the way they can break for tries.
"They get around you and the support is sharp. We really need to get those bits sorted out. It's about speed and intensity."
He added: "We were a bit disjointed defensively, especially early on against New Zealand. It's a little bit of everything - not one glaring error by one player. One thing effects the next thing, and then the next thing. It's all about intensity. Our reaction needs to improve, we need to react quicker. These are fixable things, and we need to fix them before the weekend."
Johnson has made just one change to his run-on side for the game against the Wallabies with hooker Dylan Hartley, who impressed after coming on against the All Blacks, replacing Steve Thompson.
"Dylan did very well when he came on. It's not a knock on Thommo," Johnson added. "I thought he forced his way in there with the way he played. He's been in great form after he missed the summer tour with injury.
"He's returned with huge enthusiasm and intensity. His ball carrying is getting better as he gets more experienced. The more experience he can get the better."
He added: "He understands he's got to be a force for good. It's no good being penalised and off the field. He brings confrontational energy which is good."
Asked if the Australia back division is currently the best in the world, Johnson replied: "They are very dangerous. We saw that throughout our tour of Australia. You have to be very sharp. They play with a huge amount of variation, maybe more than the All Blacks. You cannot say 'this is what they are going to do'. They may do something different this week.
"They are strong runners and we need to be strong in the tackle. We also need to improve on what we did with the ball last week. We have got to be very smart when they have the ball and we have got to play with real tempo when we have it. Then whoever we have in the right place at the right time to take opportunities, they have to do it."
Johnson admitted that England will have to cut out mistakes which undermined their effort against the All Blacks if they are to have any chance of beating Australia.
"You can't make the mistakes that we made and win at this level," he said. "We were a little disjoined at times and we have to take care of that. Attacking wise for a first game (of the autumn series) we were better than we have been in a first game for a while. If we are scoring three tries we should win, two tries and we should be in the frame, one try and we are going to have defend very well to win."
England assistant coach Graham Rowntree felt the return of hooker Stephen Moore, who missed the Wales match, would make a difference to the Australia pack.
"We have got a lot of respect for them," he said. "Stephen Moore is a fantastic player and will make a big difference for them. The detail of our work has to be spot on."
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