England’s Grand Slam credentials will receive a stern test in the Calcutta Cup clash in Edinburgh against a team fancied as pre-tournament contenders for the championship.
World Cup-winning captain and ex-head coach Johnson has urged England to put the game to bed to avoid suffering the same fate as Les Bleus.
Johnson, speaking at the launch of the inaugural Velo South at the London Bike Show, told Omnisport: “You look at Scotland the last time they played, the last 15 minutes they looked very, very strong.
“They had the scent of victory there and the crowd and the players were suddenly bigger and they probably played their best rugby in the last 15 minutes. If you’re England you don’t want to be in that position.
“Whenever England play anyone they want to beat them, the opposition want to beat them, Scotland, Wales, France, Ireland, they all want to beat England so every game’s big, every game’s fought and won.”
Excitement levels ? !!
— NatWest 6 Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 22, 2018
The last round of fixtures sees England host Ireland at Twickenham in what many see as a potential championship and Grand Slam decider.
That scenario remains on the cards, but Johnson thinks the unpredictable nature of the tournament – as evidenced by Wales’ defeat of Scotland – means nothing can be taken for granted.
“Wales go to Ireland with not a lot of pressure on them and that can make them dangerous. This tournament is far more to me a set of individual games than it is a tournament,” he added.
“You almost can’t tell from week to week. The games are so big, I always used to treat it as separate games, not really connected to the week before, the year before, you’ve just got to get over what’s in front of you.
“The world changed after the first week a little bit, it changed again after the second week and it’ll change again after the third week.
“Maybe at the start people were saying Ireland, if they could win away in Paris, would probably get to Twickenham unbeaten but we’ll see. I think Wales have surprised a few people, played very well, it makes all the games exciting, I think you wouldn’t be fully confident of predicting the results at the weekend.”
Martin Johnson CBE is riding the inaugural Velo South – a brand new 100 mile closed road sportive for the UK, held on 23rd September 2018. Pre-registrations close midnight 28th February 2018: www.velosouth.com
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