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Johnson -- Tindall woe to fire us to Grand Slam

Martin Johnson believes the loss of captain Mike Tindall could actually help fire England up to produce a "big finale" and clinch the Grand Slam against Ireland tomorrow.

Nick Easter will lead the team at the Aviva Stadium after Tindall, captain for England's first four Six Nations victories, was ruled out with ankle ligament damage.

Tindall's place at outside centre has gone to Bath's Matt Banahan, while Saracens wing David Strettle comes onto the bench over two years after his last Test appearance.

Easter captained England against Samoa in November but he is technically Johnson's third choice general behind Lewis Moody, who has missed the entire championship with a knee injury.

"Captaincy does come into it, you can't deny that," Johnson said.

"But the edge that is there in this game will be good for us. England play better in the bigger games. It's going to be tense but we need a bit of angst.


"It suits us. Every game there's been this season seems bigger than the last. That's good. You don't want things to peter out. You want to go out in a big finale. You want to go out with a big win."

Johnson was captain the last time England completed a Six Nations clean sweep in 2003, a triumph sealed coincidentally with a 42-6 win at the old Lansdowne Road.

He now has a chance to become only the sixth man to win a Grand Slam as a player and a coach.

"We know what's at stake and that's great. We've worked hard to get there and we think we deserve to be here," Johnson said.

"We all know it's an opportunity to win a Grand Slam but if we start badly for the first 10 minutes that will feel a long way away.

Johnson warned England will need to be on their guard. Ireland have underperformed so far in the championship and they will be angry following last weekend's controversial defeat to Wales.

Referee Jonathan Kaplan awarded a try for Mike Phillips that should never have stood because Wales took a quick lineout with the wrong ball.

Afterwards, Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll was furious and Johnson said: "I think you'd be feeling that anger as a team. When teams are like that it makes them fairly dangerous."