Rugby: Aussie Johnson in line for Scotland coach job with Massimo Cuttitta as assistant

AUSTRALIAN Scott Johnson is set to be named as Scotland’s new rugby coach ahead of the RBS Six Nations Championship with Italian scrummaging guru Massimo Cuttitta lined up as his assistant.

An announcement is expected over the next few days, but the Evening News understands that this is now a formality.

Promotion for current attack coach Johnson comes in the wake of Andy Robinson’s departure last month and will be ratified almost exactly a year after it was revealed he was coming on board the Murrayfield set-up from Ospreys, starting with the summer tour of Australia and the Pacific Islands.

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Confirmation of the move was the talk of informed Scottish rugby circles today and one implication is that the cash-strapped Scottish Rugby governing body – they are £13 million in debt – will be spared additional cost by promoting in-house.

Ex-Italian prop Cuttitta is much longer serving but until now has been regarded purely as a scrummaging coach having been brought on board at Edinburgh Rugby, where he made such a strong impression his services were acquired by Scotland also.

Johnson, 50, is a one-time Australian Club Coach of the Year who worked his way up as assistant coach to New South Wales Waratahs in 2001.

From there he became assistant to the Australia A team who defeated the British and Irish Lions in Gosford.

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That was the former stand-off’s big break and he moved to Wales as part of the backroom team for their 2005 grand slam.

A spell as interim Welsh coach did not work out and, returning to Australia partly for family reasons, Johnson became Wallabies attack coach for the 2007 World Cup as a prelude to a stint with the US Eagles. Later Johnson moved back to the UK with Ospreys from where Andy Robinson snapped up his services having first made acquaintance during the 2001 Lions tour.

An SRU spokesperson today described a report of Johnson’s appointment as “speculation”.

“At this stage anything is just speculation. If and when anything occurs there will be announcement” the spokesperson added.

The Evening News further understands, though, that moves are taking place behind the scenes to unveil Johnson and Cuttitta possibly before Christmas.