Han­dling pres­sure is key to winning

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION/NEWS - By DAVID LONG

Eng­land man­ager Martin John­son be­lieves the World Cup will be won by the side that can han­dle the pres­sure the best, on and off the field.

At the team’s first me­dia ses­sion since ar­riv­ing in New Zealand last week, John­son said it won’t be a style of play­ing the game that will be suc­cess­ful, but an at­ti­tude in play­ing.

‘‘There is a cer­tain re­silience that will win this World Cup,’’ John­son said. ‘‘ You’re go­ing have to be tough, be able to deal with the pres­sure, ex­pec­ta­tion and the ex­pec­ta­tion on New Zealand will be huge.’’

Pres­sure will also be on South Africa as the de­fend­ing cham­pion and John­son ac­knowl­edged English fans’ ex­pec­ta­tions are also a bur­den on his side.

‘‘World Cups are all about pres­sure, deal­ing with it off the field and ob­vi­ously on the field. You get into close games in the last 10 min­utes and it’s all to play for. I’m sure there will be a game like that. Who­ever wins it, I’m sure they’ll have one game where they’re down or level go­ing into the last quar­ter of an hour.

‘‘Find­ing a way to win is what World Cups are about. If you talk about style, it’s a team that can bat­tle back and find a way to win a close game in a knock­out.’’

John­son was asked about the rel­e­vance of the pre-cup games, par­tic­u­larly those in the TriNa­tions and the warm up fix­tures in the north­ern hemi­sphere.

He feels that while wins and losses from those games may be a talk­ing point now, they’ll all be ir­rel­e­vant once the World Cup be­gins.

‘‘Ire­land haven’t won one, we’ve won two and lost one.

Will All Blacks’ and Wal­la­bies’ wins/losses af­fect them? ‘‘Well if they let it,’’ he replies. ‘‘I’m sure they’re go­ing to be very com­pet­i­tive de­spite a cou­ple of losses.

‘‘Once you get to a World Cup they’re all stand alone games, no mat­ter what hap­pened last year, month or week.’’

John­son knows New Zealand well. His wife is a Kiwi and he spent time play­ing here early in his ca­reer.

And it’s be­cause of his knowl­edge of the coun­try that he’s able to state con­fi­dently that New Zealand will put on a good tour­na­ment.

‘‘I think it will be great, when you have a tour­na­ment in one coun­try, the whole coun­try gets be­hind it,’’ he said.

Step­ping up: With in­juries to Kieran Read – an­kle – and Adam Thom­son – el­bow – strip­ping the All Blacks back to just three fit loose for­wards, pun­ters may be ner­vous, but Kaino says he’s good to go.

Kaino now be­comes the sec­ond most se­nior loose for­ward be­hind skip­per Richie McCaw, and he’s pumped about that.

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