NZ Rugby World Tournament Guide - - MAGNIFICENT SEVEN -

PO­SI­TION: Lock AGE ON DE­BUT: 22 AGE WHEN FIRST CAP­TAIN: 28 CAPS BE­FORE BE­COM­ING CAP­TAIN: 39 TESTS AS CAP­TAIN: 45 TO­TAL CAPS: 84 KEY QUAL­I­TIES: Men­tally tough. De­mand­ing of oth­ers. Re­source­ful. Di­rect. Phys­i­cally im­pos­ing. Lead by ex­am­ple. World Class player.

The key at­tribute Martin John­son brought to his cap­taincy was phe­nom­e­nal phys­i­cal pres­ence and iron for­ti­tude. He wouldn’t be de­scribed as hav­ing a huge in­tel­lect but John­son was clever enough and emo­tion­ally in­tel­li­gent.

He was a fol­low me leader in ev­ery sense. The first guy into con­tact would have been John­son. The first guy to let the op­po­si­tion know they needed to back away...was John­son. He tended to act first, worry about con­se­quences later such as was his fo­cus on win­ning.

He wouldn’t be in dan­ger of be­ing called lo­qua­cious but he didn’t need to be. A few well cho­sen words; a few steely glares and off they went. John­son was a player ev­ery­one re­spected and maybe even slightly feared. He was a world class op­er­a­tor – gen­uinely gifted and was not only the 2003 tour­na­ment’s best leader, he was also the best lock. That abil­ity to be task fo­cused, di­rect and so com­mit­ted was ex­actly what the English team of that time needed. John­son kept things sim­ple and ev­ery­one knew what was re­quired.

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