Autumn rigours will help Scotland - Johnson

Scotland coach Scott Johnson watches from the stand. David Denton, below. Pictures:  Ian Rutherford

Scotland coach Scott Johnson watches from the stand. David Denton, below. Pictures: Ian Rutherford

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Scotland rugby coach Scott Johnson believes his team have come through a three-match Autumn Test series in a way that shows they will be competitive in the upcoming Six Nations Championship. The Scots could scarcely have a more demanding start to 2014 with a trip to Ireland followed by a six-day turnaround before entertaining England.

Speaking in the wake of a 15-21 loss to Australia and before Ireland came within seconds of defeating world champions New Zealand yesterday Johnson said: “Dublin doesn’t worry me. I have a duty of care for Scotland (and) whoever we play we will be a character team that Scottish people will at least know what we stand for.”

One player closer than most to being included for the Six Nations is Edinburgh back row Dave Denton who gave another notable performance in a game where Scotland collectively failed to grab proceedings by the scruff of the neck when Australia had a player sin-binned.

“I thought Denton had a poor year by his own standards last year and I struggled to pick him for the national squad,” Johnson added. “We all know he is big, athletic and aggressive, and we like him for that. His regional form has been super and he has backed it up. He was probably leg weary (and) he was one we carried through.

“We talk about constants and he made us make him constant (in the team) because of form.”

A match in which Scotland were relieved to get points on the board early after being whitewashed the previous week coincided weith a 50th Test appearance by Jim Hamilton and the coach felt he had risen to the occasion.

“Jim Hamilton is someone I have a soft spot for as a character to have in the squad.

“He is abrasive in some ways and did not stand in front of many queues when it comes to athleticism but he has made the most of having a big body.”