Johnson aims to learn from criticism

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The Independent Online

England manager Martin Johnson revealed his men are in "determined mood" heading into Saturday's showdown with New Zealand, the final Investec Challenge of a tough autumn campaign.

The critics have been out in force after two disappointing performances in the 18-9 defeat to Australia and last weekend's laboured 16-9 victory over Argentina.



World Cup-winning full-back Josh Lewsey and the former England captain Will Carling have both this week questioned the effectiveness of Johnson's coaching staff.



But Johnson was encouraged by the manner in which squad engineered a victory over the Pumas week - and how they have responded to the criticism in training this week.



"You speak about the criticism. It is there, you can't deny it and that comes with being a Test, particularly an England Test player," said Johnson.



"We critique everything we do. What is important to the guys is what they say to each other and they have looked after each other very well.



"The players have got to be encouraging to each other. There were times we did some good things on Saturday but we will need to play better if we are to win the game.



"New Zealand are never worse than very good. We need consistency as a group for 80 minutes. Pressure is what it is all about and you do that on the field by being a united group of players.



"If we didn't have that we would have lost against Argentina on Saturday but they found a way to win the game.



"To beat the All Blacks you have to have a solid 80 minute game. They will get points on you at some point and you have to be resilient enough to bounce back."



England's attacking game has been too pedestrian and too lateral for most of the autumn, with the mentality seemingly one of trying to avoid defeat rather than chasing a victory.



England will take a confrontational approach into the All Blacks game after Johnson recalled the powerhouse lock Simon Shaw, combative flanker Joe Worsley and awarded the hard-running centre Ayoola Erinle his full Test debut.



The one concession England have made to their apparent iron-fist approach is to include the exciting Mathew Tait on the bench for the first time this autumn.



Johnson railed at the suggestion that his selection was "damage limitation" or defensive and he highlighted the undisputed ball-carrying abilities Erinle, Shaw and Worsley possess.



But Erinle knows he is in the side ahead of the more creative option of Shane Geraghty with one specific job to do - force Ma'a Nonu onto the back foot both in defence and with the ball in hand.



"It is one of the tougher games to make your starting debut in. It is a baptism of fire but I will rise to the challenge," said Erinle.



"I am no Shane Geraghty, there won't be any razzle dazzle or throwing miss-passes. The coaches have picked me for my size and strength and my more abrasive game.



"Nonu is very much a threat. The onus is on us throughout the team to be on the front foot in defence."



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