Martin Johnson reveals why he has never returned to coaching since leaving England - Ruck

Martin Johnson reveals why he has never returned to coaching since leaving England

Former England World Cup-winning captain Martin Johnson has disclosed his disinterest in a rugby comeback.

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Johnson, who led his country to victory in 2003, served as head coach for three years before stepping down in 2011 following England’s World Cup quarter-final loss to France in New Zealand.

Since then, he has been linked to a number of roles, including a return to his former club Leicester Tigers, but nothing has ever materialised.

Johnson said: ““Well, I was watching the (recent) World Cup final. It was down to a point. Yeah, I was thinking, even if I was supporting New Zealand or South Africa, I’d probably be feeling sick right now, you know?

“I’m fine. I’m lucky we have done what we did [win a World Cup]. I watch my boy (Henry) play rugby, do a little bit of coaching with him and I’m happy with that. I’ve not got a huge desire to put myself through that every Saturday.”

He added: “When you look at, you know, performing teams, they have probably all got similar values, maybe sort of expressed in slightly different ways.

“But fundamentally, you need that huge hunger to be successful. If you’re comfortable, and I’m not saying this about any team anywhere, but if you’re just happy where you are, then you’ll stay where you are or go lower.

“You have to be hugely hungry to be successful and, you know, Clive had that. We had that. We were never happy and in a good way. We probably didn’t win as much as we could have won in those preceding years. We blew some Grand Slams, so it always kept us grounded. It’s never comfortable.”


In his remarkable lineup, Owens features three Welsh luminaries – Alun Wyn Jones, Shane Williams, and Gethin Jenkins. Additionally, he acknowledges the contributions of Lee Byrne, Dwayne Peel, and Leigh Halfpenny to the sport.

Notably, a striking facet of Owens’ chosen players is their collective leadership qualities, with the majority of the selected individuals having served as captains for their respective nations.

Fullback: Israel Folau (Australia)

Owens said: “For me, it’s nip and tuck between Halfpenny and Folau, next to nothing to choose between them. Leigh is brilliant because under the high ball and with his kicking at goal under pressure. He may not always break the line when running but puts his body on the line in defence and is a top-notch match-winner.

“But I go for Folau – only just, I should stress – because of his ability to seemingly beat his man every time he gets the ball in his hand. He’s such an exciting player and like Leigh he is one of the best under the high ball.

“It’s a toss of a coin for me… and it’s come down in Folau’s favour.”

Winger: Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

Owens said: “How can you fail to be impressed when watching Hogg play. He’s so exciting as he burst into that line and, of course, was named Six Nations player of the tournament.

“I know he’s a full-back for Scotland, but he is so quick and direct he could easily play on the wing. He reminds me a bit of Shane Williams with some of the things he does.

“When you see who is on the other wing in my team, you’ll see how they would work brilliantly in tandem.”

Fixtures for the Six Nations - Round 1

Outside-centre: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)

Owens said: “Not only is he one of the greatest centres in the history of rugby union but he’s a fantastic man off the field as well. O’Driscoll has been a wonderful ambassador for the sport and a real leader. He always respected referees and set the right example for others to follow.

“A legend of the game who conducted himself superbly, on and off the pitch.”

Inside-centre: Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand)

Owens said: “He’s another brilliant player and after every game, win or lose, he would come up and give me a hug. Ma’a has always found time at after-match functions or at breakfast if we’ve been staying at the same hotel to come over and have a chat.

“What a player, mind, too. One of the stalwarts of the New Zealand side for so many years.”

Winger: Shane Williams (Wales)

Owens said: “When people ask me who is the best player I have refereed it’s pretty much an impossible task to pick one because I’ve been lucky enough to take charge of so many greats.

“But if I’m pushed, I would pick Shane for what he achieved after coming from football at 17 or 18 years of age.

“He was in the mould of Gerald Davies in how he left defenders gasping for air as he beat them with those dazzling sidesteps. Nobody would fancy defending against a back three of Shane, Hogg and Folau, I can tell you that.”