Experience, injuries issues for England ahead of 2019

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    29 Jan 2018     Getty Images

That's the view of World Cup winning England captain Martin Johnson.

He told the Daily Mail that the fitness issue was a big one for the side.

"It's a big 'if', though, because I think Eddie Jones would expect to have a little bit more depth and there's not a lot of rugby left between now and the World Cup.

"With injuries, there will be a few question marks. The front five's pretty good but it would be great for another tighthead to nail down that position alongside Dan Cole. He's been an absolute rock for England for eight years. You'd like to have four world class tighthead props but you very rarely do," he said.

Johnson said there wasn't depth in the halfback position where Ben Youngs and Danny Care had been involved for eight years while there wasn't much experience on the flanks beneath James Haskell and Chris Robshaw.

"You always expect England to have an experienced, grizzly forward pack but the backs are more experienced than the forwards. Let's hope England come through with three, four or five players who are up to it during the Six Nations. It's a good challenge," he said.

Johnson didn't believe captaincy was an issue for England. While coach Eddie Jones had backed Dylan Hartley it was difficult to drop him when the side was winning. But there were plenty of leaders in the squad who all had a contribution to make.

By comparison to the 2003 side, the only England or northern hemisphere, side to win the World Cup, the modern day team lacked the depth in experience.

"We pretty much had two genuine packs that you start play in the Six Nations. Jason Leonard sat on the bench in the World Cup final with 100-odd caps. Danny Grewcock, Martin Corry, Lewis Moody, Joe Worsley, Simon Shaw, Julian White, Leonard, Dorian West, Graham Rowntree, Mark Regan – those guys weren't even in the forward pack.

"If you look at the England current squad, pretty much a quarter of the squad are new caps. They need some young guys to come in and knock off the older guys," he said.