Under-fire Johnson stands firm

Wed, 19 Feb 2014 09:36
Large scott johnson posts

Scotland coach Scott Johnson insisted the barrage of criticism that has come his way in recent weeks would have no effect on him.

Scotland coach Scott Johnson insisted the barrage of criticism that has come his way in recent weeks would have no effect on him as he prepared the side for their Six Nations encounter with fellow strugglers Italy.

The Scots will kick-off in Rome's Olympic Stadium having conceded nearly 50 points in all and scored a mere six during heavy opening defeats by Ireland and England.

This month's 0-20 Calcutta Cup loss at Edinburgh's Murrayfield ground was a particular low, representing the first time since 1978 that Scotland had failed to score a point in a match against arch-rivals England.

Johnson's repeated references to Scotland's "naive" play and argument that he wasn't taking the "easy" option by building a team for the future sparked a furious reaction from fans, pundits and ex-players starting to weary of the Australian's penchant for one-liners.

Former Scotland prop Peter Wright labelled Johnson a "joker" while Clive Woodward - a thorn in Scotland's side both as an England player and coach - claimed the current Dark Blue team would struggle to beat any of the 12 clubs in the English Premiership.

But Johnson, speaking after unveiling his team to play Italy on Tuesday, said of the criticism: "I haven't given it a second thought to be honest.

"All I care about is the team - did we perform well? We didn't. Should we be disappointed? Yes we should," added Johnson, due to become Scotland's Director of Rugby at the end of the season when New Zealand's Vern Cotter arrives from French giants Clermont to take over as coach of the national side.

"It's amazing - the people that judge you the most know you the least," explained Johnson. "I am happy with who I am. I ain't changing. And I don't really care what they say about me.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion, I'm not going to hold it against them. The people I care about are the people that are close to us."

But Johnson admitted the only sure-fire way to silence the doubters was by improved results on the pitch.

"At the end of the day, we have got to do better. The best way to close critics' mouths is to perform."

Johnson has made three changes, all in the pack, for the match against an Italian side renowned for its forward strength.

While it was no surprise that Scott Lawson came in for Ross Ford after his fellow hooker's erratic line-out throwing display against England, or indeed that giant lock Richie Gray returned to the second row in place of Tim Swinson, Johnson's decision to drop David Denton - one of the few Scots to have impressed this season - and start Johnnie Beattie at No 8 raised eyebrows.

"There is a lot that we like about Dave with the ball, but it's not the same without it," said Johnson by way of explanation. "We want the same energy from him with and without the ball."

AFP

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Wed, 31 May 2017
New Zealand U20 v Scotland U20 07h00 AIA Arena
England U20 v Samoa U20 07h00 Tbilisi
South Africa U20 v France U20 09h30 Tbilisi
Ireland U20 v Italy U20 09h30 AIA Arena
Argentina U20 v Georgia U20 12h00 Tbilisi
Australia U20 v Wales U20 14h30 Tbilisi
Fri, 02 June 2017
Blues v Reds 07h35 Auckland
Sat, 03 June 2017
Crusaders v Highlanders 02h35 Christchurch
Chiefs v Waratahs 05h05 Hamilton
NZ Barbarians v B&I Lions 07h35 Toll Stadium
Brumbies v Rebels 09h45 Canberra
Force v Hurricanes 11h35 Perth
Sun, 04 June 2017
Ireland U20 v Scotland U20 07h00 AIA Arena
Argentina U20 v France U20 07h00 Tbilisi
New Zealand U20 v Italy U20 09h30 AIA Arena
Australia U20 v Samoa U20 09h30 Tbilisi
South Africa U20 v Georgia U20 12h00 Tbilisi
England U20 v Wales U20 14h30 Tbilisi
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 28 May 2017
Lions v Kings 54 | 10
Sat, 27 May 2017
Jaguares v Brumbies 15 | 39
Munster v Scarlets 22 | 46
Sharks v Stormers 22 | 10
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 20 | 23
Bulls v Hurricanes 20 | 34
Rebels v Crusaders 19 | 41
Highlanders v Waratahs 44 | 28
Sunwolves v Cheetahs 7 | 47
Fri, 26 May 2017
Reds v Force 26 | 40
Blues v Chiefs 16 | 16
Sun, 21 May 2017
Waratahs v Rebels 50 | 23
Sat, 20 May 2017
Kings v Brumbies 10 | 19
Munster v Ospreys 23 | 3
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 21 | 20
SIX NATIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
England 5 4 0 1 19
Ireland 5 3 0 2 14
France 5 3 0 2 14
Scotland 5 3 0 2 14
Wales 5 2 0 3 10
Italy 5 0 0 5 0