Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lewsey: Spare Johnson the axe

Former England international Josh Lewsey believes Martin Johnson remains the right man to lead the national team on to success in the future.

Lewsey, 34, retired from international rugby in December 2008 after 55 caps, and was part of the winning World Cup team of 2003 which was captained by Johnson.

After England's underwhelming quarter-final exit at the hands of eventual finalists France this time around there have been calls for Johnson to be axed, but Lewsey has faith in his former team-mate.

He said: "I'm away from it now so I'm not in the right position to comment on whether 'Johnno' is the right person to lead England forward, but I know he will be hurting hugely from the performances on the field and some of the alleged behaviour off it.

"He is a good man and was a phenomenal captain and a good guy and I have no doubt that if given long enough he would ultimately have success."

The former Wasps star also reckons Sir Clive Woodward could still have a part to play within the Rugby Football Union, as reports continue to suggest the former head coach is in-line for a return to the fold as director of rugby.

Woodward guided England to their World Cup triumph eight years ago and has since had roles with Southampton Football Club and the British Olympic Association, but could soon be tempted back to rugby - something that gets Lewsey's backing.

"I know the RFU are doing a review now and I'm sure they will come away with the right result," he said.

"Clive is a very professional guy and has always been very innovative in his ideas.

"He is exceptional and is a visionary but there is a review taking place that will come to its own conclusions."

England's disappointing World Cup did not diminish Lewsey's enjoyment of the competition during the latter stages.

"I was really pleased with the overall tournament. I think the four best rugby-playing teams were in the semi-finals.

"I'm clearly disappointed in England's performances.

"I think in general Wales played some cracking rugby and the values they illustrated on and off the field, the way they conducted themselves, spoke volumes for what the game of rugby is all about.

"New Zealand have been the best team for the past few years and they got pushed all the way so great drama to the end."

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