Martin Johnson touched by 'tragic' Christchurch
Three days before England should have been opening their Rugby World Cup campaign in Christchurch, Martin Johnson led a red rose delegation on a goodwill visit to the earthquake-torn city.
England were scheduled to play their first two pool matches, against Argentina and Georgia, and a potential quarter-final at the recently renovated AMI Stadium.
Australia were also scheduled to use Christchurch, a city that sees itself as the rugby heartbeat of New Zealand, for part of their campaign.
Christchurch's role as host city survived earthquakes on September 4 and Boxing Day last year but a 6.3 magnitude tremor on February 22 devastated the city.
The disaster claimed 182 lives and caused damage estimated at 30billion (£15.5billion). City officials estimate 1,200 buildings will need to be demolished.
The AMI Stadium, formerly known as Lancaster Park, had just been given a £30million facelift but the two main stands have sunk into the ground.
A decision is yet to be taken on whether the stadium needs to be demolished.
"When you see such a severe quake, it is not about rugby. It is tragic," said Johnson, as he stood on the stadium's damaged field.
"When we saw what happened in February, we knew rugby wasn't top of the agenda. We just go and play somewhere else - for the people here it is home.
"This is a famous and iconic stadium and it is sad to see it in this state. We should be here playing.
"To see Lancaster Park, as I always think of it, in this state is really sad. It was a no-brainer for us to come up and show our support."
Johnson first visited the stadium with the Lions in 1993, when he watched from the stands as the All Blacks snatched a controversial 20-18 victory in the first Test.
The England manager was also joined on today's visit by scrum coach Graham Rowntree, captain Lewis Moody, Shontayne Hape, Lee Mears, David Wilson and Alex Corbisiero.
England also visited the maternity unit at Christchurch Hospital and Woolston School.
"It is great to get down here and show our support," said Moody.
"I sat in the stands for the first Lions Test in 2005 - I was injured then as well - and seeing it as it is now is sad," said Moody.
"It would have been great to be here. This is a fantastic opportunity to get down here and show some support for a place we would have called home at one stage."
The England management have refused to comment on reports that Sale wing Mark Cueto has been ruled out of Saturday's game against Argentina.
Cueto has been struggling with a lower back problem which refers pain into his quadricep and affects his acceleration.
The Sale wing was forced off just 21 minutes into England's final warm-up international but said last week had shaken the problem.
If Cueto is sidelined for the Argentina game, Johnson will turn to Delon Armitage, who made a try-scoring appearance off the bench against Ireland, or Matt Banahan.
Chelsea injury news: Cesc Fabregas and Branislav Ivanovic could join Diego Costa on the sidelines for crucial Manchester City clash
Australian Open 2015: Thanks to Amelie Mauresmo, it's no longer Andy Murray against the world
Fantasy Premier League: Invest in Arsenal to climb the ranks in Gameweek 23
Manchester United sign former Manchester City prospect Sadiq El Fitouri on advice from Phil Neville and Paul Scholes
Chelsea vs Manchester City: Manuel Pellegrini pours scorn on anti-Chelsea 'campaign' but refuses to discuss Jose Mourinho's 'Pellegrino' slight
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account