Players aren’t scared of me, says Johnson
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England manager Martin Johnson says comments from Lawrence Dallaglio suggesting the current squad are so inhibited by their boss’s reputation it’s retarding the team’s progress are a “myth”.
Johnson is an iconic figure within English rugby after captaining the side to World Cup glory in 2003.
But former back-row Dallaglio, who played in that victorious team, believes many players within the squad are so in awe of the manager’s status they are unwilling to question his decisions, in contrast to the lively discussions Johnson had with then-coach Clive Woodward nearly a decade ago.
“England need to be more player-led and less coach-driven,” Dallaglio told Tuesday’s edition of The Times.
“The challenge for Martin is that he is such an iconic guy they don’t want to put their hand up; everyone is so afraid of him.
“They don’t want to say, ‘What are you on about?
“Players need to step up and say ‘it is Saturday. Now we are in charge.’”
But Johnson, speaking after unveiling his side to play Wales in Saturday’s Six Nations opener at Twickenham, told reporters at England’s training base on Tuesday that Dallaglio was wide of the mark.
“I think he’s pretty wrong, actually,” Johnson, who has presided over eight defeats in 14 Tests in charge since taking charge in 2008, said.
“It takes time for players to find their feet in Test match rugby. You are not going to come into a squad and start challenging people particularly.”
England were much criticised for their lacklustre performances during a November series where they were beaten by Australia and New Zealand and just managed to defeat Argentina.
Johnson and backs coach Brian Smith subsequently admitted they had been “over-prescriptive”.
Reflecting on his relationship with Woodward, Johnson said: “We’d been together six or seven years, you know what people are like and you can have those strong discussions.
“We’ve had in the last month with the players some pretty open and frank discussions. That’s great,” he said.
Johnson denied suggestions he intimidated his players.
“There’s a lot of mythology about that,” he said.© AAP 2013
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