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Page last updated at 20:12 GMT, Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Martin Johnson keen to stay as England manager

Martin Johnson
Johnson says England are smart enough and savvy enough to be better

England manager Martin Johnson has said he would like to continue in the job after the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

His contract expires at the end of the year and talks about a new one will not begin until after the tournament in New Zealand ends in October.

Asked if he would like to still be in post this time next year, he replied: "Yes. It is a very addictive job, even the stress and disappointment."

Johnson has just guided England to the Six Nations title.

Although England were denied a first Grand Slam since 2003 by Ireland in Dublin on Sunday, their performance this year was a significant improvement on the 2010 tournament which yielded only two wins.

A 21-20 victory over Australia in Sydney in the second Test in June helped spark an upturn in form which was followed by some promising performances in the autumn internationals during which they beat the Wallabies 35-18 at Twickenham.

Reflecting on the 24-8 defeat by Ireland, Johnson, who took over in July 2008, said: "Yesterday is always the worst day of the year in a way because you have been in a long tournament and then you are sitting there with no players to deal with," he added.

Johnno is trying to turn them [the players] into hardened internationals who can win matches at the highest level

Rob Andrew

"It is a very good group to be around. When you get that time together and that continuity and the success, that is what you do it for.

"I say to the players 'it is OK to want to play for England but to win for England is what you really want to do'.

"It is a good environment at the moment but we have to keep on working for that.

"When you remember where we were 18 months ago, this Six Nations was fantastic.

"You can't manufacture the experience they have all got from this tournament and to come out on top from what we said would be a very close tournament has been a heck of a job by our team.

"When you have a young squad it is very exciting, it is very new and you are making relatively big steps all the time so it is certainly an exciting group to be about.

"I have no doubt we will all come through last weekend better for it. They are smart enough and savvy enough to be better."

Extended highlights - Ireland 24-8 England

Extended highlights - Ireland 24-8 England

Rugby Football Union elite rugby director Rob Andrew was also delighted at the progress being made by the team ahead of the World Cup.

"We have all been in Grand Slam deciders and lost them, that happens. This team have now had the experience of losing a Grand Slam decider and it will hurt them but it will make them stronger," he said.

"If you had said this time last year we would win away in the southern hemisphere for the first time since 2003, have our biggest win ever against Australia at Twickenham and win the Six Nations in a World Cup year with a lot of young players we'd have all said that would be very, very good.

"The process of development is very strong. We won the Under-20 Grand Slam on Friday and we have a tremendous crop of young players coming through the system.

"Johnno is trying to turn them into hardened internationals who can win matches at the highest level."

It is not just from among their own ranks, though, that Johnson's troops have won praise.

All Blacks star Dan Carter - rated by many as the best fly-half in the world - has admitted that he rates England as the biggest European threat to anticipated southern hemisphere dominance when the World Cup begins in his country in September.

Speaking as he travelled to London for his Crusaders side's Super Rugby clash against the Sharks at Twickenham on Sunday, Carter stated: "England played some fantastic footy [in the Six Nations] and deserved to win. It stands them in good stead for the World Cup later in the year.

"Going on the last 12 months, I'd say it would be England [who will be the most dangerous European nation]," continued the fly-half, whose Christchurch-based team were forced to look for an alternative venue for the Sharks clash after their AMI Stadium was damaged in February's earthquake.

"The French are always very unpredictable and you can never rule them out out, as I know first hand. But England have built a great squad, have real depth there, have some exciting talent."

England's Chris Ashton

Six Nations 2011 - Tries of the Tournament

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see also
England 'Grand Slam' video leaked
22 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations in 60 seconds
21 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
England in a good place - Johnson
20 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
England got it very wrong - Johnson
19 Mar 11 |  English
England 'scarred' by Slam defeat
19 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 24-8 England
19 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Australia 20-21 England
19 Jun 10 |  English
Johnson excited by England role
18 Apr 08 |  English

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