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postheadericon Martin johnson eager for solid start to six nations

Martin Johnson Eager For Solid Start To Six Nations

Martin Johnson is poised to keep England’s team selection simple for their opening RBS Six Nations Championship game against Wales on February 6.

Whereas he gambled last autumn with a squad racked by injury, the England team manager will look to field players in their specialist positions in an attempt to gain precious momentum at the start of the tournament.

This could prove a turning point for Mathew Tait, who played well for Sale Sharks against Toulouse on Sunday and has edged ahead of Dan Hipkiss at outside centre. Johnson considers the uncapped Shontayne Hape as back-up for Riki Flutey at inside centre and, although neither Delon Armitage nor Ben Foden covered himself with glory in the final round of European matches, Armitage has credit in the bank from his excellent season at full back during 2008-09.

The England coaching staff would have hoped for greater poise from their Heineken Cup contenders, of whom only Northampton reached the last eight. “In an ideal world we’d have three or four teams there because it is good for the players, but we haven’t,” Johnson said at the launch in London yesterday of the Six Nations. “Some guys have come into camp disappointed from the weekend but they get into England mode very quickly.

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