Johnson hails NFL

New England boss sees transferable aspects of American football

Last Updated: 01/10/08 9:53am

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Johnson: Open mind

Johnson: Open mind

Sky Bet

American football fan Martin Johnson will bring some of the NFL with him when he takes over as England rugby boss for the first time next month.

The World Cup winning captain will sit on the England bench for the first time when the Three Lions play autumn internationals against the Pacific Islands, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand in November.

Ahead of these games - which are all being screened on Sky Sports 2 - Johnson believes there are aspects of American football which can be implemented in the rugby domain.

And he should know - as a teenager, he played for the Leicester Panthers American football team, while he has also trained with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers.

Johnson - who is a staunch fan of the 49ers after becoming intrigued with the sport back in the early 1980s - told the latest Sky Sports magazine: "NFL makes everything look spectacular - it's a huge sport and entertainment event.

No-brainer

"In the early 1980s, choosing whether to watch Rugby Special or American football was a no-brainer.

"American football was from another planet - all these guys smashing into each other.

"So I went to play it and learned about tackling and hitting, and they got us to lift weights. It was intense - they have a real culture of coaching over there."

He added rugby can learn from American football teams in the way they break everything down into small components.

"We can adopt methods from the NFL in terms of their video analysis of the opposition and in the emphasis placed on specialist coaching," he said.

"When England won the World Cup in 2003, we had a coaching staff similar to an NFL team with a host of assistants specialising in different areas.

Phenomenal athletes

"We can also learn from the way NFL players train as they are phenomenal athletes.

"We have to train differently to American football players because our game is more about endurance and theirs is more stop-start with short periods of explosive action.

"But rugby teams can definitely learn from them in terms of techniques and approaches when it comes to conditioning."

* For the full interview with Martin Johnson, see the latest Sky Sports magazine.

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