Rugby World Cup 2011: Martin Johnson refuses to discuss future

Martin Johnson watches on as England crash out of the World Cup
Martin Johnson was appointed England manager in April 2008

Manager Martin Johnson refused to discuss his future after England were knocked out of the World Cup by France.

Johnson admitted his side were second best as France secured their place in the semi-finals with a deserved 19-12 victory in Auckland.

"I'm not getting into that conversation now," said Johnson, whose contract ends in December. "It's not the right place, the right people or the right time.

"I'll give it a couple of days, assess myself and how we've been."

Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs, who has emerged over the last 18 months, wants Johnson to continue in the role.

"Without a shadow of a doubt. I can't praise him enough," Youngs said.

"He's fantastic at what he does. They'd be absolutely foolish not to keep him in the role he has at the moment.

"I have nothing but respect for Johnno and you can ask any of the 30 guys and they'd say the same thing. As Johnno said, there's more to come from this team."

England were 16-0 down at half-time of the last-eight contest, although Johnson believed his side began strongly.

"We actually started the game pretty well when we had the ball," he said.

"The key thing in the first half was probably two things - their kicking game and their aerial game. They probably reclaimed a lot more of their kicks than we did.

"We said in the week these guys will test you and be more clinical on the edge than anyone we've played.

"That was the case. Our defence wasn't good enough. A couple of mistakes, two tries and it was very much uphill.

"We created two or three real chances in the first half, made some breaks and couldn't finish them off. That was the difference.

"They scored their two tries, we should have had two, we didn't have any."

Ben Foden and Mark Cueto responded for England with the only tries of the second half in an improved display, but Johnson's team rarely looked likely to overhaul France's lead.

"When eventually we scored [through Foden] we needed to score again pretty quickly and probably took a little bit too long to get a second one," conceded Johnson.

"We turned the ball over in their 22 a couple of times when, if we had retained it, we were really building pressure and momentum.

"That was the story of our night - those mistakes killed our momentum.

"I'm proud of the way the guys fought back in the second half. Their effort was fantastic, but we left ourselves with far too much to do. It's brutal.

"France ultimately deserved to win."

The loss in Auckland is likely to be the last time Jonny Wilkinson, Mike Tindall, Simon Shaw, and captain Lewis Moody play in the World Cup, but Johnson is confident for the future.

"I believe this team's best days are ahead of it. A lot of them are at their first World Cup and they're better for the experience," he added.

England's departure from the tournament followed a far from convincing showing in their pool matches.

They trailed both Argentina and Scotland before coming through to win in the last quarter of each match.

Johnson opted to replace centre Tindall with Toby Flood for the match against France, despite Flood's preference for playing at fly-half.

Fly-half Wilkinson and former Newcastle team-mate Flood last started a match together for England more than 20 months ago, in the 30-17 win over Wales in February 2010.

"We let them get their tails up. They have got lots of dangermen and they got a foothold in the game with the points on the board," admitted Wilkinson.

"We gave ourselves a massive task, but I'm proud of the way the boys took on that task."

Scrum-half Joe Simpson, who was not named in England's squad for the match, admitted that his team-mates' performance had not been worthy of a semi-final place.

"A few simple mistakes cost us. Maybe we used our luck up, maybe it just wasn't meant to be. But we weren't quite good enough," he tweeted.external-link

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