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Page last updated at 17:51 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 18:51 UK

England 'needed Johnson example'

Martin Johnson
Johnson starts his new post next week

Lions coach Ian McGeechan believes England's tour of New Zealand would not have been blighted by off-pitch trouble if new boss Martin Johnson was present.

The squad arrived home on Monday with allegations of sexual assault still hanging over four unnamed players.

"It is important that management and senior players are seen to set a very strong example," McGeechan told 5 Live.

"Martin knows what it takes to win. He would set an example that just wouldn't allow this environment to develop."

A number of players were out drinking into the early hours after the first Test defeat in Auckland, and some women accompanied them back to the team hotel.

Last Friday, New Zealand police said they were investigating an allegation of serious sexual assault of a woman by four unnamed players, but no formal complaint has been made.

The young players sometimes have to be told exactly what is expected of them

Ian McGeechan
McGeechan, who chose Johnson as his Lions captain on the 1997 tour of South Africa, stopped short of criticising Rugby Football Union elite rugby director Rob Andrew, who stepped in as manager with Johnson back home for the birth of his second child.

But asked if such incidents would have happened if Johnson had been in New Zealand, McGeechan - who will lead a Lions tour for the fourth time in South Africa next year - said: "I doubt it."

The Wasps director of rugby added: "We have been a professional game for 11 years now and all the things that go with that the players have to take on board.

"The young players sometimes have to be told exactly what is expected of them. Often you have got very strong players in the group who will do that.

"Martin and Lawrence Dallaglio are two I can think of, who would just not have let this happen."

"The great thing about Martin is he knows what it takes to win games and he can relax, but relax in the right way."

The Scot believes a player-led disciplinary code is vital if touring sides are to be successful.

"You have to have a strong code of conduct the players are part of - that is key," he added.

"With the Lions or any group of players you have to respect everything you do on and off the field. That discipline is second to none and it should be better than anything you do at home.

"You respect your team-mate, and also with a Lions tour you become part of a country as you are there for longer.

"So you respect the people of that country and cannot afford to lose that respect. That discipline and that behaviour is important to me, you don't just turn it on when you cross the touchline.

We have to educate the players to the risks they are taking sometimes

RFU's Rob Andrew
"If you agree it then it's black and white and there are no grey areas. I don't think there's any reason not to say 'this is what we are buying into, what we accept, and if we don't behave that way there will be consequences'."

The Rugby Football Union has already stated they will introduce a new code of conduct that all players have to sign up to as part of their contract if they are included in the 32-man elite squad to be named on 1 July.

Andrew, who has endured scrutiny of his own position over his handling of the tour, led the squad through Heathrow Airport's Terminal Four arrivals area on their return to England on Monday.

"We are pleased to be back," Andrew said, while urging caution over drawing conclusions into the alleged hotel incident and any possible disciplinary ramifications for the four unnamed players.

"We have got to wait and see what happens. We are still part of an on-going police inquiry. As far as the players are concerned, we have to support them in this."

Andrew added: "Moving forward we have to look at the protocols for players. We have to look at some of the issues that have not been addressed in the past, like curfews and women at the team hotels.

"There has never been a protocol around that - there has not needed to be - but we have to educate the players to the risks they are taking sometimes."

see also
England four in NZ assault probe
20 Jun 08 |  UK News
New Zealand 44-12 England
21 Jun 08 |  English
New Zealand 37-20 England
14 Jun 08 |  English

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