Six Nations 2014: Scott Johnson wary of Wales backlash
Six Nations 2014: Scotland head coach Scott Johnson warns Wales will want to finish their campaign on a high note
Scott Johnson expects Wales to come out all guns blazing after the disappointment of losing to England last week.
The Scotland head coach, whose coaching career took off after a spell as skills coach with Wales a decade ago, returns to Millennium Stadium for his final match in charge hoping his side will play their part in a shoot-out with pride at stake against the reigning champions.
“There’ll be disappointed, they would be,” Johnson said. “We’re talking the current champions and they’ll be hurting, especially against an old foe like they did.
“They won’t want to finish like that, so we’re expecting them to come out all guns blazing, but I want my boys to go out all guns blazing too because we want that and expect that.”
Scotland go into the match off the back of a 19-17 defeat by France, a match in which they dominated the opposition, but threw away the chance of back-to-back wins in the Six Nations with an intercepted pass that led to a breakaway try and a kickable penalty conceded in the final minute.
Despite the disappointment and just the win against Italy to show from their four matches so far, the Australian believes Scotland have tried to play in this year’s championship.
“I think our intent has been there,” he added. “If you exclude the England game where we got no set-piece to work off, our intent has been to play rugby and we’ve shown glimpses of some really good skillset.
“[Last] weekend we showed really good intent all the time. Have we completed our skillset the way we wanted to? No, we haven’t. Have we improved in certain areas? Yes, we have. Can we do better? Too right, we can. Our intent will always be there.”
Scotland have won just once on eight visits to Cardiff since Wales replaced the National Stadium with Millennium Stadium, but Johnson has requested the roof be closed, despite the advantage it can bring to the home side.
“We’ve asked to have the roof closed,” he said. “We’re not running away from our intent to play rugby and that’s a good thing from where the skillset of these players lie and are developing. The intent over the last couple of weeks has been really good.
“The roof was built for a certain reason. When I was with Wales, I was emphatic from my point of view: irrespective of who you play—Australia, New
Zealand, South Africa—you should never run away from the fact that it’s the best conditions. The crowd deserve it, this is why it’s done. It’s a cauldron that I can’t coach.
“These players will thank me for it later, because it’s a great environment to ply your trade and you’re going to find out a bit about yourself and that’s exactly what sport should be. We won’t run away from that, we want it closed.”
Both Wales and Scotland have been penalised heavily during the tournament, leading to both nation’s coaches contacting the IRB for clarification on certain decisions, but Scotland should have an advantage in meeting referee Jerôme Garces in their defeat to England at Murrayfield.
“We’ve got to look at ourselves when it comes to penalty counts and we will and we do and we’re honest,” Johnson admitted. “The frustration lies in the inconsistency of the law, so that’s been expressed. From our part, the adjustments have been made. I’m just hoping it works both ways.”
Johnson may be looking to shoot down his former employers on Saturday, but he maintains a lot of love for Wales, but that will be on hold until Saturday evening.
“It’s been a great part of my life. I owe Wales and the country so much,” he said. “It certainly changed my life. I met a wife down there and it changed my life from a bohemian existence to a slightly not so bohemian existence.
“I’ve got a lot of friends down there and it’s nice to go back, but I’ll enjoy it after the game.”