SCOTLAND’S Australian coach Scott Johnson has dismissed the suggestion that his countrymen are in disarray as they prepare for a Murrayfield showdown on Saturday without almost an entire team of players.
The Wallabies arrived in the UK missing a handful of Test performers, most notably David Pocock, Scott Higginbotham, James O’Connor, Kurtley Beale, Anthony Fainga’a and Pat McCabe, mostly through injury.
But their head coach Ewen McKenzie took the unprecedented step this week of banning another six players, five from this weekend’s game with Scotland, as punishment for staying out late drinking in Dublin last week – three days before they played Ireland.
Now they have lost centres Tevita Kuridrani to a five-week suspension and Matt Toomua with an injured hamstring.
Johnson does not face the same level of absence but is without key men Stuart Hogg, Ross Rennie, Tim Visser and Matt Scott, with Tommy Seymour doubtful. So he laughed off a claim that his side have the upper hand as they seek a third successive win over the Aussies.
Asked specifically about how the Wallabies would fill the centre roles, Johnson responded: “[Christian] Lealifano’s not a bad player, is he? I don’t know if they’re in disarray. I said that this kid Lealifano is going to be a special 12 for Australia, so I’m not sure that’s disarray.
“They’re not in disarray because, I tell you what, whoever plays there will be a skilful rugby player. Australia are starting to assemble a really good side.”
Asked whether he agreed with the decision by his former coaching buddy McKenzie to ban players for a night out drinking, he added: “I’m not sitting on judgment on other people’s issues. Everyone’s job is easy until you have to do it. That’s their issue. I’ve got enough on my own plate to start worrying about theirs.”