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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 January, 2004, 16:50 GMT
'The heartbeat of the team'
England captain Martin Johnson makes a point
Johnson won 84 England caps
Martin Johnson describes himself as "a simple bloke really".

He adds: "I like to get things done properly but I don't like fuss and I'm not all that keen on attention."

That was before he led England's rugby team to World Cup glory in Australia, lifting the country's first major sporting trophy for 37 years.

But after making that heady evening in Sydney his last Test outing, we look at how others viewed arguably England's greatest-ever player.


Sir Clive Woodward, England rugby coach
"He has always been a great player and is an inspirational person to work with - he keeps pushing the barriers back.

"He never moans. He doesn't like long meetings, he doesn't like too much analysis.

"He is a brilliant leader and he is the talisman, the heartbeat of the team."


Will Greenwood, England team-mate
"He was the daddy, an absolute superstar and he deserves not to work another day if he doesn't want to.

"You can't put a value on what he did for the side. He wasn't shy of delivering a few polite words before we went out on the field but the most important thing was he led by example, from the front.

"It will be almost impossible to replace him. They will certainly be tough shoes to fill, whoever the next captain is."


Corne Krige, former South Africa captain
"Martin Johnson is one of the dirtiest captains in world rugby.

"But he is a good player and he gets his team behind him. For that you have to respect him."


Josh Kronfeld, All Black and former Leicester team-mate
"He has a great ability to cut through the crap.

"All that bull of modern rugby that floats around the edges of a team's preparation, he just shoves it away.

"He demands excellence and doesn't moan. He always gets on with it."


Scott Gibbs, three-time Lions team-mate
"He is one of those guys who you want in the trenches with you but he is a pain in the arse to be up against.

"He is one of those players who do not come around very often. I just wish he had been born Welsh."


Phil Larder, England defence coach
"Martin has very strong opinions yet is very open-minded. He is exceptionally coachable.

"He has got good hands and hits strongly. He doesn't just lumber forward.

"His angles are good. In the big matches in particular, his work-rate and level of involvement is phenomenal."


Peter Wheeler, Leicester chief executive
"Martin's a big man who makes no concessions.

"In a room full of people he stands out because he never lowers his head or stoops."


John Eales, former Australia captain
"His game against Australia in Melbourne last June was one of the greatest I have seen from a lock forward.

"He is the driving force in the England team and his performance sets the tone for how the whole team plays."


Lawrence Dallaglio, England team-mate
"When he took on the job of captain I didn't think he was especially good at it, but he's grown into one of the best captains there's ever been.

"He will be hugely missed - his work-rate, the amount of tackles he makes, that commanding presence, his sheer authority, the intimidation factor that our opponents and the referee feel when they see him."




SEE ALSO
The ultimate England warrior
17 Jan 04  |  Rugby Union
Martin Johnson: Six of the best
17 Jan 04  |  Rugby Union
Johnson's career in pictures
17 Jan 04  |  Photo Galleries
Who will succeed captain Johnson?
12 Jan 04  |  Internationals



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