Johnson has my backing - Thomas

Martin Johnson has been backed to continue in his job by the acting chief executive of the Rugby Football Union - before an official review into England's World Cup failure has even begun.

England crashed out of the tournament with a 19-12 quarter-final defeat to France at Eden Park - their worst World Cup performance since 1999. Johnson's contract as England manager expires on December 21 and immediately after the game he said he would spend the next few days considering his options.

Martyn Thomas, who drove Johnson's appointment in 2008, told BBC Radio 5 Live: "It's a matter for him to make that decision as to whether he wants to continue into 2015. He has my backing, certainly."

Thomas' decision to open the door for Johnson to continue flies in the face of the "robust" review process announced earlier in the day by Rob Andrew.

Andrew, the RFU's rugby operations director, will talk extensively with Johnson, the coaches and senior players before formulating England's plan to win the World Cup on home soil in 2015.

The management board, on which Thomas sits, will then be asked to vote on Andrew's recommendations, which may or may not include retaining Johnson as manager.

"It is my job to review the World Cup and make a recommendation to the RFU management board," Andrew said.

"In July 2008 we said we would support Martin right through to the World Cup and then reflect on what happened and go forward from there.

"Martin needs to think about it so does the RFU so we can actually move on and take things forward with this group of players. At some point between now and Christmas we will make our recommendation about the shape of the England management team.

"At the very, very latest from January 1, 2012 we will be in a position to pick a Six Nations squad and start the campaign through the Six Nations in 2012 and through to 2015. These World Cups come around quickly and you cannot afford to lose any time in terms of the management team and the players you want in that cycle."