Suspensions won’t aid Scotland, says Johnson

Scott Johnson. (Jane Barlow)
Scott Johnson. (Jane Barlow)
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Scotland rugby coach Scott Johnson has insisted his team’s latest task has not been made any easier by the Wallabies’ decision to suspend five players from Saturday’s concluding viagogo Autumn Test at Murrayfield.

The build-up to the match has been dominated by disciplinary action undertaken by Australian coach Ewen McKenzie after players went clubbing in Dublin last week until 3.30am.

Some might see that as putting Scotland on a hiding to nothing with any victory hollow and a defeat more concerning given weakened opposition.

However, Johnson told the Evening News: “There’s no obvious starters that are being left out, let’s get that right. Some of the players left out aren’t in the starters. They (Australia) are in a different place too.”

That was a reference to how all teams are seeking blends and combinations as the World Cup draws nearer.

In fact, the Wallabies retained the same backs throughout the opening three matches of their tour and Saturday sees both wing positions having to be re-allocated due to the suspensions but Johnson insisted:

“There’s no pressure on me, no pressure on players. It’s just performance. That’s it. It’s their decision (and) I’m too old to sit in judgement on people.”

Scotland bid to end 2013 with five wins from 11 games, although Johnson put more emphasis on getting tactics and technique right hinting that everything else would then follow.

Said the Australian, who will hand over to New Zealander Vern Cotter midway through next year and take up full time the post of director of rugby he currently also fills: “I’ll take a win, but I’ll take a performance above anything else.”

Last weekend’s 0-28 defeat by South Africa was the biggest inflicted on Scotland under Johnson.

Again, he appeared keen not to over-react, saying of how a couple of possible penalty kicks were passed up in search of tries.

“(Scoring points) might have made things look better. I’d rather go down swinging than pretending it is something else,” he added.