Johnson demands huge improvement

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The Independent Online

Martin Johnson gave the first indication that his patience is beginning to wear thin after admitting he is "fed up" of constantly having to say England must improve.

England struggled to a 16-9 victory over Argentina on Saturday with an error-strewn performance devoid of direction, ambition and confidence.

Both Australia captain Rocky Elsom and Argentina skipper Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe have commented over the last fortnight on how predictable England are in attack.

Ireland, who drew with the Wallabies in Dublin yesterday, and South Africa's conquerors France both appear to be light years ahead of England at present.

Johnson knows that unless England must effect a remarkable transformation in the space of six days or they will be put to the sword when New Zealand arrive at Twickenham on Saturday.

"If we make those same mistakes we will be in big trouble against the All Blacks," said Johnson.

"For all the things we didn't do well against Argentina, we ultimately won. I would take those mistakes with a win next week - but I don't think that will happen."

England have talked a good game in the build-up to their defeat by Australia and Saturday's win but on both occasions they have failed to deliver.

The Twickenham crowd is also losing patience and twice booed England during the first half - a reaction Johnson admitted was entirely justified.

England captain Steve Borthwick assured the Twickenham public that no stone would be left unturned in an attempt to deliver on Johnson's demand and improve enough by Saturday to at least be competitive.

In a message to the supporters, Borthwick said: "I can understand the frustration. We must continue to strive for improvement.

"New Zealand is a huge challenge and one that excites me and everyone in this squad.

"Do you honestly think that anybody will look at that game more critically than we do as players?

"When you feel frustration watching the game, do you feel anyone feels that frustration more than the players?

"When you feel joy because we have scored a fabulous try, does anyone feel the joy more than the players?"