SCOTLAND are poised to name Scott Johnson as interim head coach for the RBS Six Nations Championship.
By handing the reins to the Australian, the Scottish Rugby Union will be following England’s lead after Stuart Lancaster led England into last year’s Six Nations before landing the job on a permanent basis.
Johnson, who came into the Scotland set-up in June when then head coach Andy Robinson sought a more experienced figure than his attack coach Gregor Townsend, is poised to be in post by the end of this week.
And Townsend, now in charge of Glasgow Warriors, praised Johnson’s abilities, saying: “I have worked closely with Scott. He is a great coach.”
Johnson has been skills coach with Australia and Wales and has had brief spells in charge of both the Welsh and the US Eagles. He joined Scotland on their Southern Hemisphere tour and worked with the squad for the autumn Test series. After three promising tour wins, Scotland fell to Autumn defeats to New Zealand, South Africa and Tonga, and that proved too much for Robinson, who quit, leaving behind Johnson and Matt Taylor, who also joined last summer.
SRU chief executive Mark Dodson has been sifting through head coach applications but, now in Japan for talks with potential sponsors, he has decided to ask Johnson to step up. England did the same last year when Martin Johnson left and England Saxons coach Lancaster took a caretaker role.
Johnson is one of Scotland’s highest-paid coaches and releasing him as well as Robinson could have cost the SRU in excess of £500,000.
With Johnson a backs specialist, the SRU are also expected to confirm Italian scrum coach Massimo Cuttitta, brought into the Scottish game in 2006 by former Edinburgh coach Lynn Howells, as interim forwards coach for the Six Nations.