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Johnson named as England supremo

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Johnson will have full managerial control of the England team

Martin Johnson has been appointed England team manager from 1 July to the end of 2011 in a shake-up that sees Brian Ashton removed as head coach.

The World Cup-winning captain, 38, will have full control of team selection and the appointment of the coaching team.

But with his wife Kay expecting their second child, Johnson will not travel to New Zealand for the tour in June.

Elite rugby director Rob Andrew will lead the trip as manager with coaches John Wells and Mike Ford retained.

Ashton has been offered the post of head coach at the Rugby Football Union's National Academy, a role he has performed previously, but has yet to decide whether to accept the role.

It brings an end to his 16-month reign as head coach, in which he guided England to the 2007 World Cup final and second place in this year's Six Nations, their best finish since 2003.

I would like to thank Brian for the job he has done in difficult circumstances. He is an outstanding coach

Rob Andrew on Brian Ashton

Johnson will report to Andrew, but have "full managerial control" of the England team. He will appoint an additional coach, expected to be a backs specialist, in due course.

"I am passionate about the England team and delivering success for it," the former lock forward said in a statement.

"While I cannot take up my position until 1 July for personal reasons I will be working closely with Rob and the England coaching team on selection for the Barbarians match and the New Zealand tour, as well as selecting the first senior elite player squad of 32 under the new agreement between the RFU and Premier Rugby."

Andrew will take over Johnson's duties for the 1 June Twickenham date with the Barbarians, and the two-Test tour of New Zealand which follows.

As well as forwards coach Wells and defence coach Ford, the coaching team will also include scrummaging expert Graham Rowntree and kicking coach Jon Callard.

BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer

Andrew believes Johnson will bring "a new and fresh approach to team development and preparation in his own inimitable style".

Andrew met Ashton at Twickenham on Tuesday to tell him he was losing his job as head coach, just four months after recommending that the Lancastrian stay on in the job "indefinitely".

On Wednesday he thanked Ashton "for the job he has done in difficult circumstances", praising him as an "outstanding coach" who "deserves enormous credit" for his achievements with England.

"Whilst Brian is naturally disappointed that he will not have a role in the new senior structure, I believe the new post that we have offered him as Head Coach of the National Academy is ideally suited to his special talents and expertise," Andrew added.

Interview: England team manager Martin Johnson

Ashton returned to the England set-up as attack coach in May 2006, before succeeding Andy Robinson as head coach in January 2007. He won 12 of his 22 Tests in charge, losing 10.

Robinson, who was dismissed in December 2006 after a run of eight defeats in nine Tests, says Johnson will not just have to manage his coaches and players, but forge a strong relationship with the RFU hierarchy.

"You have got to be able to manage the people above you," Robinson told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"I think the management board need to take a hard look at themselves and how they conduct themselves.

"You want everybody to be on the same page, and that is not necessarily the case."

Johnson, Andrew and RFU chief executive Francis Baron will outline further details of Johnson's role in a media conference on Friday.

Brian Ashton still has much to offer England rugby

RFU chief executive Francis Baron
But Baron said Johnson would benefit from the RFU's huge financial resources as he seeks to restore England to the status they enjoyed under his captaincy.

"Martin has the freedom and the budget to recruit additional coaching resource and make other changes to the England set-up to build a team that will consistently challenge for the major international tournaments," Baron said.

"I am also personally pleased that Brian (Ashton) has been offered a senior post within the RFU which I very much hope he accepts. He still has much to offer England rugby."

see also
Johnson's career in photos
16 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Matt Dawson's view
16 Apr 08 |  English
The verdict on Johnson
16 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
RFU chief should resign - Moore
16 Apr 08 |  English
Edwards admits talks with England
11 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Corry backs Johnson for England
08 Apr 08 |  Leicester
Johnson must be coach - Woodward
06 Apr 08 |  English
England target Johnson as manager
21 Mar 08 |  Rugby Union
Ashton's England future unclear
26 Mar 08 |  Rugby Union
Axe hanging over Ashton
13 Mar 08 |  Rugby Union
Ashton given 'long-term' contract
20 Dec 07 |  Rugby Union

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