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Johnson Tells Players "Improve, or Go Home"

Lacklustre performances need addressing - fast

Posted Sep 21, 2011 by Chris White

Martin Johnson has warned his team to improve or prepare to fly home

After two disappointing performances in their opening games, against Argentina and Georgia, the England players have been made fully aware that they need to raise their games, or start packing their bags for the long flight back to London.

Martin Johnson’s side held on to beat Argentina 13-9 in their opening game in what was a very scrappy affair with numerous handling errors and penalties conceded, but fortunately their opponents failed to capitalise on the opportunities they had to bury England. Against Georgia, they won 41-10, which on paper sounds like a vast improvement, but in actuality, it was possibly a worse performance. England conceded 11 penalties in the first half alone and had Dylan Hartley sent to the sin bin for accumulating a number of offences, finished off with a handling error in the ruck.

The England squad reportedly held a team meeting to review the performance against Georgia, in which they did run in six tries to claim a bonus point, but the players were made aware of the “do or die” nature of World Cups, according to Jonny Wilkinson.

The fly half, dropped to the bench for the Georgia game in favour of Toby Flood having misfired in the opener, said “mistakes in a World Cup are going to cost you. They could have cost us very badly in the first half against Georgia. Thankfully, a few of their kicks went wide, but who knows what could happen next time. We can’t afford to do it.”

James Haskell echoed Wilkinson’s views, saying that England must “identify areas we need to improve, who’s not working hard and who’s not trusting the system. People have to start pointing some fingers and saying that this just isn’t acceptable.”

All the best teams in this competition are showing levels of discipline that England can only dream of at present. While they may have underwhelmed with their performances so far, it is that indiscipline that has made it look worse than it actually is. To win the World Cup, it doesn’t matter it you grind out a result or demolish an opponent with the best game of rugby ever played a win is a win. Unfortunately, England are going to be caught out if they don’t sort things out – and fast.

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