England manager Martin Johnson says resilience is more important than playing style in making progress at the Rugby World Cup.
Johnson, who captained England to victory at the 2003 tournament, said finding a way to close out knockout-round games at the Sept. 9 to Oct. 23 event in New Zealand will be the crucial factor. England, which made the past two World Cup finals, first plays Argentina on Sept. 10 before taking on Georgia, Romania and Scotland.
“I don’t think there’s a certain style, I think there’s a certain resilience that’s going to win this World Cup,” Johnson said, according to the tournament website. “You’re going to have to be tough, you’re going to have to deal with the pressure and the expectation.”
Should England finish atop its five-team pool, it would play the runner-up from Pool A in the quarterfinals. Top-ranked New Zealand is the bookmakers’ favorite to win that group ahead of fourth-ranked France.
“World Cups are about pressure, dealing with it off the field and obviously on the field when you get into close games with it all to play for in the last 10 minutes,” Johnson said.
Johnson says the All Blacks’ back-to-back losses to South Africa and Australia in the Tri-Nations last month would have no bearing on the World Cup. New Zealand is seeking its first title since winning the inaugural tournament in 1987.
“Once you get to the World Cup, they are all sort of standalone games,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter what’s happened last game, last year, last week, last month. It’s about what you do on the day.”