The All Blacks' demolition of France last weekend has set the benchmark for their rivals to follow, says England coach Martin Johnson.

Johnson, in the country this week to check out World Cup hotels and training facilities, found time to watch the final international of the year and liked what he saw in the 39-12 evisceration of a team that will be one of his side's toughest rivals in February's Six Nations.

"I was very impressed. To score five unanswered tries against the French ... the All Blacks' counter-attacking game was very good."

It was, Johnson agreed, a fillip for a sport that has had its share of negative press in recent months.

"I think so, yes. The low scoring and lack of tries have been picked up on and highlighted, as have the rules around the tackle and breakdown, but the All Blacks executed brilliantly in those areas.

"It's something we [England] need to work on. We know we need to get better in those areas and we will be working hard on it in the coming weeks."

Unimpeachable as a player and captain, Johnson has found the darts are thrown more frequently when you step into the coach's chair, and they can be poison-tipped.

His England squad were continually berated over their lack of adventure during the autumn internationals, even being booed off the field after a narrow victory over Argentina.

He also had to digest comments from IRB chief executive Mike Miller that it was English "mentality", rather than the rules, that were to blame for a number of torpid November tests.

(Which could be why the sport's governing body yesterday decided it would not consider any law changes before the 2011 World Cup, even though IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset admitted "concerns about the attractiveness of the game". Instead, the IRB will begin a review of global playing trends in early 2010, including interpretation of the tackle-ruck laws.)

Ironically, coming to rugby heartland in the past week has allowed Johnson to disengage from the debate. The 39-year-old has engaged in a whirlwind tour spanning both islands as he checked out World Cup venues.

There was a concern when New Zealand was announced as World Cup host that the event might have outgrown the country's capabilities. From a purely rugby standpoint, Johnson has no such concerns.

"I think that concern was more for the supporters and getting them around. In terms of what we are scouting, the training facilities have been outstanding."

Johnson's trip has taken him from Auckland to Christchurch, on to Invercargill, Queenstown and Dunedin before he heads for Sydney today.

The choice of Queenstown as a destination is interesting, pointing to the idea England might base themselves in the tourism capital for the first few weeks as they prepare for two games in Christchurch and one in Dunedin.

"We're looking at all the options," Johnson said. "We will make our call soon."