SEAN LAMONT believes a primary attribute for the new Scotland coach must be an ability to bolster player confidence.
The 31-year-old, who equalled Kenny Logan’s record as most capped Scotland three-quarter on his 71st appearance last time out, declined to speculate on who might be brought in to succeed Andy Robinson but insisted current attack guru Scott Johnson was popular in the dressing room.
“We need the right type of coach. There are coaches in the past who have tried to be really hard and that just got players’ backs up,” said Lamont, who is expected to complete a decade of international rugby during the next RBS Six Nations Championship.
He added: “International level is different from coaching a club side where players need their skills developing.
“For international coaches, players should come physically prepared and have the best skill set needed to get into the squad.What it then comes down to for coaches is getting things right tactically and getting the players believing in themselves.”
And it is Lamont’s belief that Scott Johnson, the Australian brought in ahead of this summer’s successful tour by Andy Robinson, fits the bill.
“Scott Johnson has done really well,” he said. “He has helped me on the rugby side by making some simple suggestions. The way he explains moves is really straightforward and a lot of the boys like what he has done.
“If Scott becomes caretaker – I don’t know the plan but that would probably be a logical step – the players like him. He is well respected. If he steps up there would be no problems.” Some eyebrows will be raised by the way Lamont paints a picture of top-flight players needing reassurance, but speaking at the launch of Caledonia Best as the official beer of Scottish Rugby, he insisted: “Particularly in games where we put the effort in but don’t get the reward, confidence is chipped.
“Next-door neighbours England have 100,000-plus players and we have 5,000 adults playing so we do punch above our weight at times and that can lead to expectations which we always try to fulfil because the pride is never missing and the aim is to do our best every time.
“However, all players from (All Blacks stand-off and IRB player of the year) Dan Carter to grassroots, if a player is not confident he won’t be at his best.
“Without confidence you are never going to perform and that’s where a good coach pays his way.”
Meanwhile, Lamont is gearing up for the possibility of a head-to-head with Scotland colleague Tim Visser, of Edinburgh, in an inter-city clash during the festive period.
The teams meet at Scotstoun on Friday week and Murrayfield eight days later.
Lamont said: “I only remember facing Tim directly once when I was with Scarlets and while I won’t go out my way to hunt him down, I’m ready to tackle him or beat him to the ball.
“He is a great player, a big physical guy who is fast and good on his feet.
“But I’m hoping this old head gets the measure of him and, whatever happens, I expect it is going to be interesting for the fans.
“As for this derby being especially competitive because of the need to impress a new coach, everybody always goes out intent on doing their best anyway.”