Johnson wants attitude from England

Martin Johnson has warned England they must regain the "intimidating factor" if they are to have a chance of mounting a credible World Cup defence by beefing up the physical aspects of their game. [more]

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Martin Johnson has warned England they must regain the "intimidating factor" if they are to have a chance of mounting a credible World Cup defence by beefing up the physical aspects of their game.

Johnson knows exactly what it takes to win the competition having led by example in the 2003 triumph in Australia.

He said: "People talk about the intimidating factor and that’s the game. It’s physical. You have to win the collisions. You have to win that battle.

"Look at New Zealand. They win a huge amount of the breakdown situations. Those areas have become massively competitive. We have gone away a bit from being very competitive at the breakdown.

"We need to get back to what we do well. Make it difficult for teams to win the ball.

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"If you let teams win ball in those areas they’re going to chuck pride in your face. The best way to defend is to make it very difficult for them to recycle the ball."

Johnson believes England, who begin their three-match warm-ups against Wales on August 4 with two matches against France in subsequent weeks, could make the semi-finals if they can get out of their group phase which includes tricky matches against South Africa and Samoa.

But he cannot see past New Zealand when it comes to the winners of the trophy at the Stade de France in Paris in October.

Not surprisingly former All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick also predicts a triumph for the rugby’s number one nation but he is hesitant.

"As a New Zealander I am nervous about England putting it together," said Fitzpatrick.

"New Zealand’s strength is their depth but it is 20 years since they last won a World Cup and it makes me nervous when everyone says they are going to win. But New Zealand always play their best rugby when they have their backs to the wall and maybe losing to Australia a few weeks ago was a good thing."

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