Johnson demands more from England
November 18, 2010
England manager Martin Johnson and assistant Graham Rowntree plot Samoa's downfall during a training session at Pennyhill Park © Getty Images
Martin Johnson believes England must kick on from their victory over Australia or risk being punished by Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday.
The England manager has made four changes to the team that won so spectacularly last weekend, with Leeds openside flanker Hendre Fourie making his first Test start in place of rested captain Lewis Moody. Matt Banahan returns to the England side after 12 months at outside centre, while Bath tighthead prop David Wilson and Stade Francais flanker James Haskell both start against the Pacific islanders.
Otherwise, Johnson has retained the bulk of the side that beat the Wallabies 35-18 to maintain vital continuity for his developing team. "The trick against Samoa is that we take care of our performance and mindset. We have to go out there and get the tempo like like we did last week," said Johnson.
"It is about keeping the foot down. The key is having the right mindset. That is what good teams do - go out and play. That is what we are trying to do, become consistent. We need to try to be better this week. Samoa are a real, real danger this weekend. This is no different to any other Test in the series. They have our full attention."
Samoa lost 20-10 to Ireland last weekend but gave Declan Kidney's side a tough test, particularly in the scrum and at the breakdown. "They are a very dangerous side. They could have beaten Ireland last week," said Johnson. "They have a very solid and competent set-piece, they are very comfortable on the ball. Samoa probably edged the breakdown against Ireland. They are very confrontational and direct. The players are all very skilful and if we are not right on our game we will be in trouble like any other Test match."
Although Johnson has given Tindall and Moody a rest, he has kept the changes to a minimum to help build familiarity in the key partnerships. Tom Palmer and Courtney Lawes will continue to build their blossoming second row relationship while Ben Foden, Chris Ashton and Mark Cueto continue in the back three. Leicester pair Ben Youngs and Toby Flood start in the half-backs while Banahan and Shontayne Hape have played together in the centres for Bath.
"The good thing is that we played well in the last game and have done okay in the game before that (26-16 defeat by New Zealand). The team is doing well but we want to keep the continuity and we've seen the rewards of that," said Johnson. "We don't want to break it up too much. The performance (against Australia) didn't come out of the clouds, it was a build-up of what we've been doing for a while."
England: B Foden (Northampton); C Ashton (Northampton), M Banahan (Bath), S Hape (Bath), M Cueto (Sale); T Flood (Leicester), B Youngs (Leicester); A Sheridan (Sale), D Hartley (Northampton), D Wilson (Bath), C Lawes (Northampton), T Palmer (Stade Francais), J Haskell (Stade Francais), H Fourie (Leeds), N Easter (Harlequins, capt).
Replacements: S Thompson (Leeds), D Cole (Leicester), D Attwood (Gloucester), T Croft (Leicester), D Care (Harlequins), C Hodgson (Sale), D Armitage (London Irish)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Firdose Moonda looks at the moves towards greater integration within South African rugby ... and what the future holds
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14
With just two rounds left in the regular season, we look at the prospects of the teams taking part in the Championship play-offs
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker