Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Johnson laughs off low expectations

Interim coach Scott Johnson has vowed Scotland will be no pushovers at the RBS 6 Nations

Scotland interim coach Scott Johnson is having no truck with those who have already written off the Scots ahead of their RBS 6 Nations opener against England at Twickenham next month.

Under former boss Andy Robinson, Scotland ended up with the wooden spoon in the competition last year and the Englishman quit after losing three November internationals, all at home, to New Zealand, South Africa and Tonga.

Consequently, few outside Murrayfield believe the Scots have much chance ahead of the trip down south for the February 2 meeting with the auld enemy. But he told Press Association Sport: "We are going to turn up. It is a terrific game, isn't it? It is a hard place to go and win."

Johnson, former attack coach under Robinson, on Monday named 10 uncapped players in his 35-man squad for the training camp that will take place in Glasgow next week.

The Australian added: "Everyone is making it sound like we shouldn't turn up. Well. trust me, we intend to turn up and we will turn up wanting to play pretty good rugby, that's our intention. If we perform to our ability then it is going down to the wire."

Johnson's squad comprises 19 players from Glasgow Warriors, seven from Edinburgh and nine 'exiles'. Warriors quintet Ryan Wilson, Chris Fusaro, Sean Kennedy, Pat MacArthur and Sean Maitland were called up to the national set-up for the first time. Former Warriors player Johnnie Beattie, who moved to Montpellier last summer, was recalled.

Johnson said: "We sat down with one eye on the World Cup and one eye on now. This squad reflects that. We get 10 days to prepare so there won't be massive changes.

"The message is, let's focus on ourselves and do the things we do and do them well. Success will be being competitive in every game. We are not in the position where we can have high targets right now.

"We are going in the direction of the 2015 World Cup and we are having a look now. But we want to be competitive, we don't want to fall off in games. If we are still in the game at the 60-minute mark it can go any way.

"The reality is that if we start focusing on the finishing line without the process being in place, we will never get where we want to go and I am all about trying to get to somewhere and having the right process in place."