Johnson hits out at critics after Tigers' tame display

Biarritz 23 - Leicester 8

Professional rugby can be a confusing business. Here we are, accepting with the utmost reluctance that the days of wine and roses and 15 pints and a curry have gone, and that full-time dedication to the sport is an essential prerequisite. Then along comes Martin Johnson, an unimpeachable hero to all right-thinking followers of the game, to debunk the myth. "Just because you don't train on a Tuesday," Johnson said, "doesn't make people drop the ball [on a Saturday]."

So there you have it. Let's all spend more time chilling out and a little less swigging the chemical-free, vitamin-rich smoothies. You can hear the sighs of relief from players across the land - have a lie-in this morning, boys, training's an optional extra.

Last midweek, in case you have failed to follow this fast- developing soap opera, Johnson was thousands of miles from the Tigers' training ground on a testimonial engagement in Singapore. Several other players were excused duty to receive their post-World Cup honours at Buckingham Palace. The first full team run of the week was on the afternoon before this important match in the Heineken Cup.

But Johnson, who, it must be said, would turn in a presentable performance if he spent the preceding month down a mineshaft feeding on bread and water, refused to concede that these distractions were a factor in a frustratingly fitful, two-tries-to-one defeat. "It's a mental thing," the Leicester captain said. "We weren't mentally right to play the game. Because we didn't train has got nothing to do with it. No one played to their level, simple as that."

Johnson was in the mood to shoot the messenger, but it is Leicester who are giving out mixed messages. John Wells, the head coach, has been banging on about the disruption to his preparations caused by players disappearing for England training sessions. Is a concerted approach important, or isn't it?

Johnson admitted his side were "a little bit tired in the middle of the first half", when Federico Martin Aramburu and Jimmy Marlu scored game-breaking tries for Biarritz, and "lethargic". The confusion is more acute precisely because Leicester as a club have set high standards on and off the field.

It would not be hazarding the wildest guess to suggest that Johnson was hurting - all right, mentally if not physically - after Leicester were outplayed by opponents who had, funnily enough, put in four days' work together beforehand. Tigers kicked off the campaign by losing at Sale, then ran into some very good form before dropping off a couple of notches of late. Some of the backs - including Andy Goode, who missed four kicks at goal - are carrying injuries, and two forwards, George Chuter and Martin Corry, are serving bans for stamping.

An away defeat on a ground where Biarritz have lost once in 13 Heineken Cup matches does not mean the end of Leicester's season. Nor is it an end to this particular argument.

Biarritz: Tries Martin Aramburu, Marlu; Conversions Yachvili 2; Penalties Yachvili 2; Drop goal Yachvili. Leicester: Try Rabeni; Penalty Goode.

Biarritz: N Brusque; P Bidabé, F Martin Aramburu, D Traille (T Lacroix, 60), J Marlu; J Peyrelongue, D Yachvili; P Balan (D Avril, 75), B August (J-M Gonzalez, 62), Avril (B Lecouls, 62), J Thion (capt), D Couzinet (O Booyse, 59), S Betsen, I Harinordoquy, S Malonga (C Milhères, 68).

Leicester: G Murphy; S Vesty, S Rabeni (M Cornwell, 80), D Gibson, J Holtby (A Tuilagi, 49); A Goode, H Ellis; G Rowntree (D Morris, 64), R Cockerill, (J Buckland, 6-13, 49), J White, M Johnson (capt), B Kay, L Moody, W Johnson (H Tuilagi, 44), N Back.

Referee: D Courtney (Ireland).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year