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Johnson: I did not think of quitting

ENGLAND manager Martin Johnson insists he has never entertained the thought of stepping down, after celebrating the finest win of his tenure.

Saturday’s hard-fought 21-20 victory over Australia in Sydney was Johnson’s first against Tri-Nations opposition in his two years in charge.

It came amid fresh criticism of the former England captain, following disappointing results in the autumn and then the Six Nations.

But Johnson said: “I never came close to thinking about packing it in. Not seriously. Never. When you’re being criticised you just get on with it and get through it.

“You judge yourself and I’m my harshest critic. My coaches will tell me if I’m doing things wrong and that’s the way it should work.”

The winning points came from the boot of substitute Jonny Wilkinson, just as they did when Johnson skippered the side to World Cup glory on the same pitch in 2003.

The manager has already set his sights firmly on challenging for the trophy next year in New Zealand, in what will be his first World Cup in a coaching capacity.

And he has high hopes for Leicester scrum-half Tom Youngs, who scored a try on his Test debut at the weekend and now looks a strong candidate to pip Danny Care to the No9 shirt at the tournament.

“[The win] will give the guys belief that they can win Test matches down here,” he added ahead of Wednesday’s final tour match against New Zealand Maori. “Whatever happens in the next few days we need to understand how we can get better with the World Cup just 15 months away.

“The players have to have the hunger and be self-critical. Ben Youngs is a classic example of that. He has come in, competed and done very well. Hopefully now he will go away and say ‘Right, come on now, if we work that little bit harder we can come down here and win again’.”