Geech backs under-fire Johnson

Ian McGeechan says despite a poor record as England coach, Martin Johnson should still take the side to the World Cup.

In his first job as a coach, Johnson has found it a tough transition from a player. After their 27-17 loss to Australia on Saturday, he’s been in charge for 22 Tests, of which the side has won eight, lost 13 and drawn one.

Previous coach Brian Ashton took the side to the World Cup final and ended with a record of won 12 and lost 10 after 22 Tests, but was still fired.

McGeechan however, still says Johnson should stay in charge.

‘I don’t think there should be any question – I rate Martin very highly in that regard and in that area within international rugby,’ McGeechan told the BBC. ‘He has got the team through to the World Cup and we should be looking at getting the group stabilised and established.

‘He hasn’t had the best of luck at times with injuries – he had a lot of injuries for the November internationals.

‘I think it is a matter of knowing which are his real starting core players, which I think Martin will be trying to achieve now and in the November series.’

Ashton says the players should also be blamed for the dire record.

‘When you take on a job like this you understand the pressures that come with it,’ said Ashton. ‘Obviously he will be disappointed with what has happened yesterday and maybe what has happened over the last 12 months or so.

‘I’m sure he is working hard and his coaching team are working hard to put things right.

‘It’s all very well saying he is under pressure, but now is the time  – always is the time – for players to stand up and take some responsibility as well, because they are the guys who actually play the game.’