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Six Nations: Johnson says a win won’t fix problems

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Scotland head coach Scott Johnson says not even a victory over Italy on Saturday will cure the Dark Blues’ problems.

The Scots have suffered two painful thumpings to Ireland and England as their miserable RBS Six Nations campaign got off to the worst possible start.

The 20-0 humiliation at the hands of the Auld Enemy in Edinburgh a fortnight ago has been described as the nation’s worst ever display, with Scotland spending just 3 per cent of the game in the English 22 as they failed to register a point against their neighbours for the first time since 1978.

Their meeting with the victory-less Azzurri at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico could now settle who takes home the wooden spoon but under-fire Johnson concedes not even a morale-boosting triumph will guarantee that his side have turned the corner.

He said: “There is no doubt, we would take a win. It would be good for the guys but it won’t be the end of all our ills either. I keep talking about it, we want consistency in this team.

“We could win ugly tomorrow and everyone would feel good about themselves. But that is only a temporary measure. That’s one of my issues with Scottish rugby. We seem to settle for these little peaks and then the troughs.

“Yes, a win would be great for morale, but let’s not delude ourselves, we have to do it more often.”

Full-back Stuart Hogg agreed with his boss that redemption is a long way off but the British and Irish Lion hopes the journey starts in Rome.

“I think it will put us in a good place if we win here,” said the Glasgow youngster. “It could kick-start our Six Nations campaign. It will take a few wins to get that monkey off our back but hopefully this is where it starts.”

Johnson has been on the receiving end of some personal jibes in the wake of the England defeat, while his team were branded the worst ever Scotland XV by former Twickenham boss Sir Clive Woodward.

The Australian insists his players are big enough to shrug off the criticism.

He said: “These guys are professional people. They take the plaudits when they come so they can take the flak now. At the end of the day, they just need to get on with it. That’s what we put ourselves out there to do.

“There are not too many monuments built for critics - but there are plenty built for people who have done something. This is our chance to do something.”

The conditions in Italy could not be in any starker contrast to the weather that faced them last time out. While drizzle made an already boggy Murrayfield pitch even worse against England, Scotland can expect sunshine and temperatures of 16C when they kick off at 1:30pm GMT on Saturday.

Hogg believes a firmer pitch will help the visitors.

He said: “The conditions here will suit our game plan a lot more than the Murrayfield pitch did.

“We always analyse our opponents so that we know their strengths and weaknesses, now it is just about taking our chances when they are on offer.”

 

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