Croft stands by Johnson in wake of ‘disgusting’ criticism

ENGLAND lock Tom Croft has leapt to the defence of under-fire national team manager Martin Johnson, labelling criticism of the former World Cup winning skipper “disgusting”.

Johnson faces an uncertain future after presiding over England’s equal worst World Cup performance, which was compounded by a series of off-field scandals.

But Croft is adamant that Johnson, whose current contract expires in December, remains the ideal candidate to lead England into the next World Cup on home soil in 2015.

“The fact people are questioning Johnno being manager is pretty disgusting,” he said.

“I think he is the ideal man for the job. I don’t think any other team in the world has such a prominent figurehead. Hopefully he will decide to stick with the job.”

While England’s performances on the field fell well below the required standards, their exploits off it, chiefly the infamous night out at a Queenstown nightclub hosting a dwarf-themed event and Manu Tuilagi’s ferry jump, meant sympathy for the Red Rose was in short supply.

Croft, though, denies indiscipline played any great part in the team’s failings on the pitch, insisting the stories that surfaced were unworthy of coverage.

He said: “You come to expect the media will pick up on things when you are over there at the World Cup, and I think the boys coped with it pretty well.

“There were some quite vicious things written but we pulled together as a squad. It didn’t affect the way we played on the pitch.

“It was a little bit mystifying. Sometimes you think people are just looking for a story just to have a snipe. That is the way it is and the boys have to learn from that.”