Keep winning with Johnson... and get rich quick, say RFU

Martin  Johnson's first England squad will be offered a potential pay rise of more than 20 per cent as reward for cleaning up the mess of recent months.

Each of the 32 players named at Twickenham this morning on the new manager's first day in the job stand to earn more for each of next season's nine Tests -- £11,000 per man compared to £9,000 last season.

Martin Johnson

New plan: England manager Martin Johnson

The new incentive scheme hammered out after months of negotiation also includes an extra £750,000 team bonus split between the autumn series and the Six Nations.

All they have to do to clean up in both senses is to win and keep winning, something which, apart from a fourmatch run at the last World Cup, England teams have failed to do since Johnson retired almost five years ago.

The first performance-related deal for seven years means that the chosen few are no longer on a flat fee of £9,000 irrespective of the result. Although that has been reduced by £1,000, a win bonus of £3,000 has been added, which makes England better off than their more successful neighbours, Wales.

The Welsh pay structure, based on a match fee of £2,000 plus £5,000 win bonus, meant they would have earned less than England throughout last season's Six Nations but for a Grand Slam bonus worth £20,000 a man.

Johnson's team will share an extra £500,000 if they emulate Wales next year and a further £250,000 should they beat Australia, South Africa and New Zealand on successive Saturdays at Twickenham in November.

The conclusion of the deal allows Johnson to manage national affairs free of the financial issues which once drove him to lead the players out on strike during a famous 24-hour stand-off against the RFU in November 2000.

He will reveal today whether his second-row partner from those days, Danny Grewcock, has an international future after all. Johnson's old sparring partner will be 36 before his country's next match and a non-starter for the World Cup. But England's most immediate priority is to put the ship back on an even keel rather than build for the future.

Discarded as one of many victims of the 30-point beating by Ireland at Croke Park 16 months ago, Grewcock has not been seen on the big stage since. Having locked the scrum with him on 15 occasions and acknowledged his performances at Bath last season as 'fantastic', Johnson spoke to his former partner before the New Zealand tour, which will have reinforced his view that England's tight-five need the harder edge Grewcock can be guaranteed to bring.

His aggression may have landed him in recurring trouble over the years but an outstanding season for Bath has put him back into national contention. Bath head coach Steve Meehan said: 'If you pick on form over the course of the season, Danny stands a good chance. If it's with a view to the future, time is obviously against him, which is what makes it an interesting decision.'

Today's announcement marks the launch of an eightyear agreement between the RFU and Premier Rugby Ltd which finally eliminates the club-country conflict from the English game. During that time, the RFU will pay £110million in funding to the clubs, almost half of it in fees for the hire of the elite squad starting off at £146,500 per player for the season.

The selection of all 32 will be conditional on signing contracts containing a more detailed code of conduct designed to prevent any repeat of what happened in New Zealand. Sanctions range from a warning to suspension.

While the RFU's own internal inquiry is under way, sources in Auckland say the police investigation into an alleged rape/sexual assault by four unnamed England players is unlikely to go any further.

More than a fortnight after the incident is alleged to have taken place, the victim, an 18-year-old bar worker, had still not made a formal complaint. Leicester have confirmed Heyneke Meyer's choice from a world-wide list of candidates as their head coach on a three-year contract.

'I always thought that if I was to get back into rugby, it had to be with one of the best clubs in the world,' the former Blue Bulls coach said. 'Leicester Tigers are one of the best clubs in world rugby. I'm humbled that they have considered me alongside all the other candidates for the job.'

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now