Rugby Union

Martin Johnson reckons England can emulate 2003 World Cup winners

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Football News

Former World Cup-winning England captain Martin Johnson believes the current England squad has what it takes to emulate his sides 2003 World Cup glory.

A win for England against Australia on Saturday would see Eddie Jones' men equal the record 14-match winning streak set by Johnson's team, and the former England captain believes that the current side is developing a level of experience which could see it replicate the 2003 squads success.

"We had a very experienced team at that point," Johnson was quoted as saying by BBC Sport.

"You've got a group now who have been around for a couple of World Cups, and have got a lot of caps."

Johnson served as the England team manager from 2008 to 2011 and was responsible for giving players such as current captain Dylan Hartley and scrum-half Ben Youngs their test debuts.

Johnson on Youngs and Hartley

Both are now key players in the England set-up, with Hartley captaining the side throughout 2016 and Youngs becoming a regular scrum-half for the national side.

Speaking of the two, Johnson, who was recently inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame said: "Players like Ben Youngs and captain Dylan Hartley have 50 caps-plus, so they are getting into the part of their careers when they are at their peak."

Johnson admitted that they still required more players to "come through and really hit that world class level" but believes that if they can build a squad of 20-plus players with that talent that England would "have a chance to really do something".

Johnson: World Cup exit can help England

England were embarrassingly knocked out at the group stage of their home World Cup a year ago and Johnson believes that this has helped to fuel the motivation in the current crop of players.

"They have had some disappointments like we all do, and you either fall away or use them to motivate yourself," he added.

"I hope they are enjoying what they are doing. When you are winning it does create that momentum of good fun, and everyone wants to be in the group."

Johnson who won 84 England caps in his career and was twice the captain of the British and Irish Lions hopes that England's current form will have a positive impact on next year's tour to New Zealand stating: "It's a Lions year and it would be great to see a whole chunk of Englishmen go on that tour."

Do you think the current England squad can emulate the 2003 World Cup winning side? Have YOUR say in the comments below.

Jonny Wilkinson
England Rugby
British & Irish Lions
Dylan Hartley
Rugby Union
IRB Rugby World Cup

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