Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sheridan Can Power Johnson to Victory; Power Play: Andrew Sheridan Charges through a Beleaguered Australia Defence at Last Year's World Cup and Must Do the Same Tomorrow

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sheridan Can Power Johnson to Victory; Power Play: Andrew Sheridan Charges through a Beleaguered Australia Defence at Last Year's World Cup and Must Do the Same Tomorrow

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones

IT is entirely appropriate that Martin Johnson's first serious test as England team manager should be against Australia, the country that turned him into a rugby legend.

Johnson's unique place in English rugby came courtesy of that 2003 World Cup final win over Australia in Sydney, the last time he played for his country.

Now, five years on, he takes the first meaningful steps on a path he hopes will lead to more glory on a global scale, in New Zealand in 2011.

There may have been international caps awarded last Saturday for the comprehensive win over the Pacific Islanders, but that was an appetiser, a mere pre-season friendly, for what comes tomorrow at Twickenham.

A sell-out crowd of 80,000 will create a very different atmosphere for the players 13 of whom started last weekend's win over the Pacific Islanders.

That victory was against a team who had hardly trained together and didn't play to the sum of its individual parts.

Australia are a totally different prospect, having battled through 11 Test matches since June beating South Africa away and New Zealand at home.

They are not the best that the southern hemisphere has to offer but they are a huge step up for Johnson's team.

Yet the former second row is showing in management the same level of loyalty to his players that he did in 16 years turning out for one club, Leicester, at Welford Road.

England's back three of Paul Sackey, Delon Armitage and Ugo Monye are all retained and will provide fireworks, speed and the excitement.

The platform for success against Australia will be a familiar one and one close to Johnson's heart.

Prop Andrew Sheridan has been accused by some within rugby of being a "flat track bully", but he is the kind of forward player who loves to destroy his opponents the same way Johnson did on his way to a World Cup in 2003.

Sheridan's reputation as a destructive scrummager is based on his ability to embarrass various Australian props and he gets another opportunity tomorrow at Twickenham.

Over the years the Aussies have come up with various ruses, including passive scrummaging, pushing sideways and forcing reset scrums by getting their front row to buckle on initial contact in order to counter their weakness at tighthead prop. …

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