England can be 6N Champs

Lions legend Martin Johnson has no doubt that his England side can be crowned Six Nations Champions in 2010. [more]

England can be 6N Champs

Lions legend Martin Johnson has no doubt that his England side can be crowned Six Nations Champions in 2010.

England haven’t won the title since their glorious World Cup winning year of 2003 but team manager Johnson believes the return of a number of high-profile players will give his men a realistic chance of success.

Johnson has included 2009 Lions tourists Riki Flutey, Lee Mears, Andrew Sheridan and Harry Ellis in his Elite Players Squad after the quartet missed the entire autumn series through injury.

There is also a place in the squad for Lions hero Simon Shaw, who missed the November Tests against Australia and Argentina before returning to face the All Blacks. 

"We finally have the core guys back in and there’s some depth building,” Johnson told PA Sport. 

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"Every series has felt like starting again in recent years and hopefully we can develop the consistency we got towards the end of last year’s Six Nations. 

"I think we’ve got a good enough group of players to go into any Six Nations game thinking about winning. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be doing that." 

England face Wales in their Six Nations opener at Twickenham on Saturday, February 6 as Johnson’s men go in search of their first win over Warren Gatland and co since the former Lions skipper took over from Brian Ashton. 

And with neither side enjoying the kind of autumn success they had wished for, Johnson admits there will be plenty of pressure on both camps ahead of what is always an intense encounter. 

"There will be a lot of hype around the Wales game, the first game of the tournament, the centenary game," said Johnson. 

"Both teams will feel the pressure of needing to get a win but that is what it is about. 

"England-Wales is always a huge game. Are they under a bit of pressure? Yes, that is the nature of the game. So are we. 

"Last year we got on the wrong side of referees and we had to live with that for the first two or three games. We need to be very smart with huge intensity. 

"We need to strike the right balance with our players between enjoying a very intense special occasion and getting a performance out of them as well."

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