Martin Johnson! Is He Right For The England Job.

Rob MannContributor IJune 12, 2008

So the question on every English rugby fan's lips right now is: Has Rob Andrew made the right decision for the good of English Rugby.

I am referring to the appointment of Martin Johnson to the England Rugby set-up.  The facts speak for themselves; Johnson's record as a player is second to none. He has won everything there is to win in the game of rugby, but can he repeat that in the highest paid job in the professional era in England?

The first real test comes this Saturday as his England side (without Johnson being present) steps out onto the Eden Park field in Christchurch to face an All Blacks side who are out to prove their critics wrong.

The All Blacks themselves are not living up to their high expectations, and needed moments of inspiration from Dan Carter and Sitiveni Sivivatu to defeat Ireland 21-11 a week ago in a less than convincing performance.

The England side is packed with players who are relatively new to the test arena, and have never played in such a high profile game before, such as Topsy Ojo from London Irish and Luke Narraway from Gloucester.

However, there are still some stalwarts like Mike Tindell and Andrew Sheriden to give the team that bit of experience. Captained by former Bath (now Saracens) player Steve Borthwick, the England need to be fully prepared for the "baptism of fire" that awaits them.

But the question still remains about whether Johnson is the right man for the job, or whether he is another scapegoat so that Andrew can save his neck once again?  A further point is, did Brian Ashton deserve to lose his job in the manner in which he did?

I have to side with Ashton.  He did not deserve to lose his job in the manner in which he did.  He was treated completely disrespectfully by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and was not given enough time to get things back to the way they were in the times of Sir Clive Woodward. 

He still managed to get us to second in the Six Nations Championship of 2007 and 2008, and to runners-up in the 2007 World Cup, eventually losing to South Africa in the Final.  Was that not good enough for the powers that be?

I feel that Johnson needs to be given time to settle into the job, and build a team around the existing youngsters that are coming through the system, such as Wasps' Danny Cipriani and Paul Sackey, Harlequins' Danny Care, David Strettle and Nick Easter. The list could go on and on.

We have so much talent coming through the ranks in England, but the coaches in the top job are not there long enough to be able to get that talent playing successful rugby on a regular basis.

I conclude by going back to the original question.  Is Rob Andrew on a hiding to nothing, or is it a stroke of absolute genius?

I think that we as England rugby fans will have to wait and see what the outcome is, but I am hoping that "Jonno" will be remembered as a great team manager as well as an outstanding rugby player, and not as the man who failed to return England to the top of the world.