Six Nations: Johnson laughs off Lievremont comments
Martin Johnson claims Marc Lievremont's criticism shows fear in France camp ahead Six Nations clash
England head coach Martin Johnson believes Marc Lievremont’s recent comments indicate fear within the France camp ahead their Six Nations showdown on Saturday.
The France coach caused controversy when he claimed his side had a level of respect for every team in the Six Nations – except Johnson’s men.
“I don’t know about fear, maybe there is a little bit of that there. If I read Marc’s quotes correctly they respect us as a team,” Johnson said.
“They have said from the outset that if they win here they will win the championship.
“We have been through one of these big build-ups already for the Wales game. That was a big challenge for us as a team and some of our individuals.
“I thought we handled it well. We are used to it. It is what we want.”
Lievremont had earlier said: “We have a bit of trouble with the English. We respect them – well in my case at least I respect them.
“But you couldn’t say we have the slightest thing in common with them.”
The 42-year-old former France back-row forward also feels England are “already in World Cup mode” and “physically on a different level” to his own team.
He added: “This insular country, who always drape themselves in the national flag, their hymns, their chants, their traditions. They are people who one regards as a very proud people.
“But we are also very aware, in terms of planning and preparation, that the English are already in 2011 World Cup mode.
“We can feel that all of the English players are physically on a different level.”
Johnson knows how pivotal the fixture at Twickenham will be for both sides but is confident his men can handle the pressure of performing on the big stage.
“These big games are what we work for,” Johnson added. “There will be pressure, there will be quotes used by the media to generate the hype.
“There is enough history in this game and in the history of the two countries to spice it up.
“People like to beat England. There is history involved with that and most of it is not rugby history.
“That is what makes the tournament fun. That is why people like it. It is passion. People want their country to win.”