Extra coach lined up to assist Scott Johnson

Scott Johnson was due to be confirmed today as interim head coach of Scotland’s rugby team for the forthcoming RBS Six Nations Championship and summer tour of South Africa.

Other members of the backroom team being re-affirmed are existing coaches Matt Taylor (defence), Duncan Hodge (kicking and catching) and Massimo Cuttitta (scrummaging) with an additional interim forwards coach being lined up.

It is likely that the newcomer could be in place when Johnson holds his first media conference during the week beginning Monday, January 7, and the vacancy may give the Australian scope to bring in a lieutenant of his choosing or create a long-awaited opening for a candidate reared in Scotland.

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Johnson’s appointment comes a month after former coach Andy Robinson departed following defeat by Tonga which capped a year in which Scotland failed to register a home win and the SRU will be keen to stress that they have left no stone unturned in their search for a successor.

Chief executive Mark Dodson, currently in Japan on a venture believed to be connected with attracting fresh sponsorships, is expected to point out in a statement that Johnson has coached Australia, Wales and the USA and that there is a need to be brisk with the Six Nations campaign opening away to England on February 2.

At the same time as recognising Johnson’s familiarity with the Scotland set-up – having been brought in as attack coach last June – Dodson will also stress that the quest for a permanent coach is on-going with any success in the Six Nations obviously affecting final decisions.

As to who will take charge of the forwards, front-line candidates are likely to include George Graham, currently operating at Premiership club level with Gala.

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There will particular support, too, for promoting ex-international second row Shade Munro from his post in charge of Glasgow’s forwards and that move could pave the way for Simon Cross (Edinburgh

Accies) to cut his teeth in the pro game. Alan Tait has worked on

defence with the Scottish team and is presently out of a job but, having added to his experience as Head Coach at Newcastle, the ex-threequarter would back himself to fill any role.

Not to be underestimated, either, is the esteem in which Johnson is held at the Ospreys club whom he helped guide to a Magners League title in 2010. A co-architect of that triumph was Sean Holley who has taken a year out of rugby but could be tempted north to renew a proven partnership with his old mate.