We Must Not Let Standards Slip against Italy - Johnson

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), February 7, 2011 | Go to article overview

We Must Not Let Standards Slip against Italy - Johnson


Byline: Alex Lowe

Wales.......................................... 19 England ...................................... 26 MARTIN JOHNSON warned England cannot afford to let their standards slip as they begin preparations to face Italy on the back of a landmark victory over Wales.

England rose to the occasion in a raucous Millennium Stadium atmosphere to launch their RBS 6 Nations title challenge with a first win in Cardiff since 2003.

With Italy, Scotland and France all due at Twickenham before England round off the championship in Ireland, there is even talk of a potential Grand Slam.

The public expectation will certainly be for a routine home win against the Azzurri.

But a re-run of Ireland's narrow escape against Italy should be enough to reinforce the message that England cannot ease off.

"Wales was a big emotional game with lots of build-up, a lot said and it was a great occasion. We have to perform whatever the build-up," Johnson said.

"We have to set our standards higher and be better than we were this week. We have to handle this well and turn up next week and produce with the same amount of energy, tempo and improve our execution.

"The expectation with Italy is always a little bit wrong. They are very awkward and tough. They keep the ball away from you, they don't concede a lot of points and they are a pretty good team.

"It is important we get the mindset right. Until you play the next one, this is your toughest game."

Johnson issued a similar rallying cry in the autumn, when England faced Samoa a week after completing a record 35-18 home victory over Australia.

England found themselves having to come from behind to beat the Pacific islanders and afterwards Toby Flood described the scratchy performance as a "wake-up call".

Johnson is confident his squad can learn from that experience and keep developing, something they have done so well over the last 12 months. …

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