WALES expect their former coach Scott Johnson to indulge in “mind games” when he leads Scotland against the reigning RBS Six Nations champions at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Johnson coached the Welsh on a caretaker basis following the resignation of Mike Ruddock and also had a spell in charge of Ospreys. The Australian now has his former side in his sights as he looks to inspire resurgent Scotland to a third successive win in this year’s tournament following wins over Italy and Ireland at Murrayfield.
Wales hooker Richard Hibbard said of the Scots’ interim coach: “He knows the ins and outs of us all. He knows what he is getting and he knows what he has to do to stop us, but we will do stuff that won’t let him do that.”
Johnson publicly questioned Hibbard’s fitness in January 2012. “That was over a year ago, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that comes back out,” said Hibbard. “The Johnno factor is going to be interesting. He is a good coach and I got on well with him at the Ospreys, even with my fitness issues. We know what he is like in the meetings and the conferences and he says what he wants.
“We had a chat about it – he said one thing and I said the other and it was happy days. I will probably see him after the game and give him a high-five and say thanks for the win.”
Meanwhile, Ronan O’Gara has been left out of Ireland’s extended 32-man squad for next weekend’s RBS Six Nations clash with France. The fly-half, 36 next week, is Ireland’s most capped player with 128 appearances but has been in poor form this season.
After struggling against England in week two of the championship, and for Munster against Llanelli during the rest week, O’Gara’s dreadful cross-kick deep in his own half was highlighted as Ireland lost to Scotland last weekend.
Injury doubt Jonathan Sexton and the inexperienced Paddy Jackson and Ian Madigan are Ireland’s three fly-half squad options for Saturday’s game.