Scotland interim head coach Scott Johnson has stated that his side are happy to be an unknown quantity in this year's Six Nations.
Scotland interim head coach Scott Johnson has stated his side are happy to be an unknown quantity in this year's Six Nations.
Johnson has taken over the role following the sacking of Andy Robinson last November, following a shock 21-15 defeat to Tonga.
With a new coaching staff led by Johnson and former England international Dean Ryan, the former Wales boss says his side will focus on themselves rather than the fixture list and the history of their predecessors, who have not won at Twickenham for 30 years.
“We can't control the draw – it's decided that we're going to Twickenham and it's our objective to be ready. We know the size of the task ahead,” said Johnson.
“I don't think this group of players are old enough to remember that [last win at Twickenham.] History is somebody else's – we have to create our own so we will disregard what has happened in the past and focus on now.
“We bring a bit of an unknown quality. They are not really sure what we are about, so I think that unknown factor is a good thing. We're under the radar and the poor little boy on the block and we are happy to play that role. But rest assured when it comes to game time, we might not be a poor little boy.
“We can look elsewhere as much as we like but the reality is if we don't get our part right it's not worth turning up. We have looked at the development of the England squad and management [over the last 12 months], but we have to focus on what we do before think about the opposition.
“Despite what people think, we are going to turn up at Twickenham. We're not cancelling it – we're coming and keen to go.”
Commenting on the end of the previous regime, Johnson highlighted positive aspects in the defeats to South Africa and New Zealand, rather than focusing on the defeat against Tonga.
“Everyone focuses on the Tonga game, but we did some good things against formidable opposition in South Africa and New Zealand,” added Johnson.
“We didn't get the result against Tonga but the world order is changing – these Polynesian sides are now quality rugby sides.”
Johnson will lead the new Scottish coaching group alongside Ryan, with the new coach expressing admiration for his maturity and leadership.
“It was important for me to have somebody with maturity to go with our young coaching team and I'm really glad Dean [Ryan] accepted the role,” stated Johnson.
“He works both sides of the fence and he is a really good signing for us because he knows how to control a room and brings that maturity.
Both Johnson and potential captain Kelly Brown admitted they were excited about Sean Maitland, the former Crusaders winger who is eligible to play for Scotland through his father. Both acknowledged the new winger's exceptional pace, with Johnson rejecting any notion that Maitland would become a “token” Scotland international.
“It's been really exciting to come into the squad and see all the young guys and new players,” said Brown.
“One guy in particular is Sean Maitland – he has got some serious wheels and if we can give him a little bit of space it will be really exciting.
“Everyone thinks Sean has come in under the grandparent rule, but his father is Scottish and has great pride in being a Scotsman,” clarified Johnson.
“This kid has proud Scottish hertiage – it's not just a tokenism and he would be offended if anyone questioned that.
“You can cast aspersion at some people, but certainly not Sean and that's why we value him. He's certainly got some shoes and if he can get the ball, that will be nice to have.”
by Ben Coles