Johnson focused on the action

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The Independent Online

No-nonsense manager Martin Johnson insisted England will not indulge in any pre-match theatrics at Twickenham tomorrow but save their response to New Zealand's Haka until after kick-off.

The issue of how best to handle the Haka has been hotly debated following Wales' dramatic stand-off in Cardiff last wekeend and the stirring sight of Munster's exiled All Blacks laying down their own challenge at Thomand Park.



Johnson admitted England must increase the intensity of their game if they are to challenge the All Blacks and he is well aware how important pre-match psychology can be.



In 2003, Johnson's refusal to bow to protocol ahead of England's Grand Slam decider at Lansdowne Road forced Irish president Mary McAleese to walk off the red carpet and onto the turf.



But on this occasion, Johnson has more urgent matters to worry about. England face the best team in world rugby just seven days after suffering a record 42-6 defeat to South Africa.



Johnson said: "It is no good just having a good Haka performance. The start of the game is after the Haka and we have things to put right on the field.



"We have to give our message on the field. Nobody felt worse about the result last week than the players, who put their heart and soul into it.



"We don't take those things lightly, It hurt."



England dominated all the important statistics against South Africa last week - they enjoyed well over 60% of posession and forced the Springboks to make more than twice as many tackles - except for the only one that counts.



The 42-6 defeat included five tries against and was England's heaviest Twickenham defeat.



This last week has been a major test of Johnson' famed managerial skills as he attempts to mould an England side battered and bruised by the Springboks back into shape for the All Blacks.



"Everything is about attitude," continued Johnson.



"The confidence takes a dent when you get beaten like that. It is our job to get it back up again.



"It is always a tall order to beat the All Blacks. How many Test matches do they lose? How many do they lose in Britain?



"We are heavy underdogs and there is a reason for that - we got beaten heavily last week and they didn't.



"We have to do things better than they do. We have increased the intensity. We have to translate the pressure on the field onto the scoreboard.



"We need to be in the game after an hour and take the All Blacks to somewhere they haven't been for quite a long while."



Against Wales last week the All Blacks scored 23 unanswered points in the second half - and they head to Twickenham one victory away from an historic third successful Grand Slam tour.



Against all northern hemisphere opponents since the 2003 World Cup, New Zealand have won 37 of their 38 Tests. In the same time-frame, England have managed just four victories in 21 Tests.



Johnson admitted that for England to produce one of international sport's great upsets tomorrow, everything that has been wrong about their game so far this autumn must come right.



The key area for improvement tomorrow will be against the likes of Richie McCaw and Rodney So'oialo at the breakdown.



England have not been aggressive enough in their attitude or streetwise enough in their execution, which allowed the Wallabies and Springboks to profit.



Johnson added: "We can't leak soft tries, we can't have charge downs, we can't give away silly penalties," said Johnson.



"If there is adversity in the game - if they score, we have to score next. We have to win all those little battles."



And stop Dan Carter. The All Blacks fly-half scored 44 points in the two summer Tests against England and picked apart Mike Ford's best laid defensive plans on hoof.



Carter's record against England is extraordinary. In six Tests he has scored 120 individual points to England's combined total of 86.



Ford explained: "Carter is probably the best player in the world because he can change a decision in mid-air.



"They are a formidable attacking side but we believe in the systems that we have got. We need to be more aggressive and I'm sure we will see that this weekend."



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