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Will Johnson becomes Cov captain

By Leicester Mercury
July 30 2006

Former Leicester Tigers No.8 Will Johnson was named as the new captain of Coventry on Friday night. The younger brother of Tigers legend Martin signed a two-year deal and was unveiled to supporters at a members' evening.


29 July 2006


Former Leicester Tigers No.8 Will Johnson was last night named as the new captain of Coventry.

The younger brother of Tigers legend Martin signed a two-year deal and was unveiled to supporters at a members' evening.

The move down the M69 to the Butts Park Arena, ends a 16-year career at Welford Road, including 12 in the first team.

Far from being sad at moving on, 32-year-old Johnson says he is excited by the new challenge with the National One side.

"It's brilliant to have that excitement and fear in your stomach,'' said Johnson, who made 210 appearances for Tigers and was part of the golden era when the club won seven trophies in four years.

"You have to prove yourself again.


Johnson in action

"There are a lot of young guys at the club and it's a new challenge. Being captain as well is something different.

"I have left at the right time and for the right reasons. I could easily have taken a new two-year contract at Leicester and started five to 10 games a year and been on the bench for another 10.

"But that wouldn't have served my purpose or Leicester's. Now I'm going to a club for a fresh challenge and I'm genuinely excited.''

Johnson decided it was time to move at the end of last season.

"If someone had said 12 months ago that I'd leave Leicester, I'd have said they were crazy,'' he said.

"But I didn't enjoy last season too much. It was a bad year for me.

"At times I wasn't playing well and not enjoying it. At others I played well and got overlooked.''

Johnson added: "I was offered a new contract and, in the past, they'd say this is what we think you're worth, you'd say I think I'm worth this, and you'd meet in the middle.

"Now they say this is what you're worth in the market place, and if you think different go to the market place and see what you're worth.

"Thinking about what I could do got me excited.

"I have been at Leicester 16 years. It's the best job in the world but to have it and not enjoy it is horrible.

"It maybe took something like that to show that I needed to go somewhere else for a new challenge.''

Johnson - who got married a fortnight ago to Michelle after the birth of baby Joshua last October - considered going to France or Italy.

He also had an approach from Bath when Brian Ashton was coach but talks collapsed when Ashton re-joined the England set-up.

In the end, a meeting with former Tigers fitness coach Darren Grewcock, now at Coventry, in David Lloyd's gym led to him joining Coventry.

"Darren said come down and train just to get some fitness because I was training on my own,'' said Johnson.

"I trained there for a week or so and was impressed with the players they had brought in and the coaching staff. That led to an interest from them.''

Johnson admits he was worried at first about dropping down a division.

He said: "That was a concern but the skill levels are similar to Tigers and they've got a lot of guys who have played in the Premiership, and for the likes of Leinster and Munster.

"There are a few guys there who could be Premiership players of the future.''

Simon Cohen, Tigers' operations manager, said: "Will has been a fantastic servant to this club but, unfortunately, we were unable to agree terms to extend his contract.

"The back row is a very competitive area and, notwithstanding Will's departure, we have got great strength in depth in there.''

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