Martin Johnson: a troubled man?

After The French Affair last week Ireland fans need some cheering up: the sight of Martin Johnson looking grim and howling words like 'hysterical' and 'ridiculous' with regards to his coaching panel should bring a smile to their faces.

Johnson flew to New Zealand on a World Cup scouting mission yesterday refusing to accept the need for a reshuffle of England's panel. With the Six Nations to kick off in February and the memory of England's dismal performance last year still raw, Johnson is still insisting his back-room team are doing a fine job: "Criticising the coaches has become the thing to do. The easy thing would be for me to go: 'Sack X, Y and Z. Buy yourself some time and blame someone else'. But it wouldn't be right," he told The Mirror.

(At least they won't have to face the Boys in Green on home turf this year; Ireland are coming over to Twickenham on 27th February.)

And while the Six Nations 2009-2010 may still not be England's year, it look like Johnson is secure in his job for a while yet: Rob Andrew, Rugby Football Union's elite director, has made it clear that Johnson had been appointed for the long haul and won't be ordered by the union to ditch individual coaches.

It must be that frightening scowl of his......

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