- England lost 32-12 to South Africa in the World Cup final despite being favourites
- Eddie Jones and his men have come in for heavy criticism after a poor display
- But Ex-England captain Johnson says Jones is still the right man for the top job
Eddie Jones led England on a great run to the final but could not inspire them to lift the trophy
Martin Johnson was captain when England last won the World Cup against Australia in 2003
Jones looks on in frustration as South Africa run away with the game in the World Cup final
Johnson believes the current group must come back stronger or risk being ‘swallowed up’
Martin Johnson believes Eddie Jones is the right man to lead England forward after their World Cup final heartbreak.
But the captain from their 2003 triumph has warned the current crop that they risk being ‘swallowed up’ unless they improve on this year’s showing in Japan.
Jones’s side produced what Johnson ranks as ‘probably the best England performance of all time’ to beat New Zealand in the semis, only to lose 32-12 to South Africa in the final.
The Australian was tasked with leading England to a second World Cup victory and, though they fell at the final hurdle, he may stay on beyond the end of his current contract, which expires in 2021.
‘He’s just got them to a final and beat the All Blacks in the semi-final. No one else could do that,’ Johnson told Sportsmail.
‘They have to go back into a Six Nations, the burden of a World Cup is gone, and say, “Actually we need to get better now as a team”.’
Before leading England to victory in 2003, Johnson suffered heartbreak at the 1995 and 1999 World Cups. He claims you ‘don’t forget’ those defeats, which can leave you feeling ‘worthless’ and like you ‘let people down’.
After England lost to South Africa in the 1999 quarters, however, Johnson said his side ‘never looked back’ and ‘were better for it’.
Four years later they lifted the Webb Ellis Cup and Johnson believes Jones’s side have their best days ahead of them, too. But only if they focus on finding those ‘extra pieces’ to reach the next level – rather than soul searching on what went wrong in Japan.
‘I don’t think, in a way, they have to really sit down for too long and analyse it and go over it,’ he said. ‘Often when you get back into a Six Nations after the World Cup, it does feel a lot looser… the pressure can be crushing at times.
‘I don’t think they’ll have that and so they can say, “Right, you know what? We need to get better, we need to improve”. That’s the challenge – try to improve parts of their game and keep on moving forward. Because ultimately if you don’t move forward, you get swallowed up.’
Martin Johnson was speaking at the launch of UNTUCKit, who design shirts specifically to be worn untucked. Go to: www.untuckit.com