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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 June, 2003, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK
Woodward hails captain Johnson
England captain Martin Johnson gets to grips with Australia's Steve Kefu
Johnson always leads from the front
England coach Clive Woodward paid tribute to captain Martin Johnson following England's historic southern hemisphere tour.

England won all three matches as they secured their first away win against New Zealand for 30 years and their first ever win against Australia on Australian soil.

It capped a remarkable season for England, who won every match they played on the way to establishing their credentials as the best team in the world at the moment.

The mighty Johnson has been at the heart of England's ascent to the top of the world game and Woodward lavished praise on the 6ft 7in second row.

"Even by his incredible standards he is moving on," the England boss told BBC Radio Five Live's Sunday Sport programme.

I just hope he can keep it going now and move to a new level come the World Cup in October
Woodward on Johnson

"You see him on the field. We're lucky to see him off the field, what he's doing behind the scenes.

"This guy is something very, very special."

A defining moment for England came when they held the All Blacks at bay for 10 minutes with only six men in their pack during the 15-13 win in Wellington and Woodward singled out Johnson's contribution as vital to the cause.

"That 10-minute period in Wellington will live with me for a long, long period of time," said Woodward.

"You saw Martin Johnson at his absolute best in that 10-minute period when we were down to 13 men, his leadership was just inspirational.

"He's been fantastic - we always knew that - but even I've been surprised by the new heights that he's getting to and I just hope he can keep it going now and move to a new level come the World Cup in October."

Learning experience

Woodward also lavished praise on fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, although he admitted that he thought Wilkinson had been below his best during the matches against the All Blacks and the Wallabies.

"We've got a very special player there but I think Jonny would be the first admit that he's playing in a great team," said Woodward.

"He's probably had two of his quieter games, which to me is great. People around him have stood up - (Will) Greenwood and (Mike) Tindall had great tours outside him.

"He's a wonderful player and I just think he's getting better and better and this trip has been a huge learning experience for him as well."




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England coach Clive Woodward
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