Scott Johnson plays down Scotland coaching role
SCOTT Johnson’s new job at Murrayfield will be to help build a better future for Scottish rugby - just do not expect him to blow his own trumpet when it comes to discussing his legacy.
The Dark Blues’ interim head coach will be replaced by Vern Cotter when the New Zealander’s stint in charge of French Top 14 outfit Clermont Auvergne finishes in the summer.
At that point, 51-year-old Australian Johnson will then move “upstairs” to become the Scottish Rugby Union’s first ever Director of Rugby, charged with bringing through the next generation of Scotland internationals and young coaches.
But before that, he has five games left in the RBS 6 Nations to negotiate.
Some may see this as an opportunity to eulogise his achievements since replacing Andy Robinson in 2012. It was a reign that started with a magnificent third-place finish in last year’s championships but ended on a disappointing note following pastings by South Africa and Australia in the Autumn Tests.
On the whole, his leadership has been positive and helped to restore confidence to an anaemic squad that had limped miserably through the final days of Robinson’s rule.
But Johnson will not entertain discussions of his achievements if it means overlooking those of his players.
‘We have to strive to be the best’
“It’s not about me, I keep saying that,” said the former Wales head coach.
“What I want to be able to do is say that we took a bunch of kids and developed an ethic that made Scotland realise that there was genuine rewards available and that we can compete with anyone.
“No team is better than us and there is none worse.
“We have to accept what we are but keep striving to be the best we can. If we have that ethic, Scotland will be fine without me, there’s no doubt about that. They will be well on their path.
“If I look back in time and take great pride in the development of players and coaches, then I will say I did okay.”
Always quick with a one-liner, the Sydneysider is not shy about batting away tricky questions with a humorous quip. Just ask him to repeat his comparisons of statistics and bikinis - “They show you some of the truth but not all of it”.
‘We want consistency’
It was a ploy he used when asked if he felt last year’s Six Nations performance - which included the nation’s first back-to-back wins in 12 years - had made a rod for his back ahead of this year’s tournament.
“Is there something sticking out my back that I don’t know about?” he joked. “There’s no rod here, bud.”
But when pressed further, he insisted performances remain a better indicator of where Scotland are right now than results.
He said: “The fact is that we want to perform with consistency in our performances. There is no pressure on us to match what we did last year. There is no rod in our backs.
“Yes we want to do better and keep improving. But we just want to be able to say we can compete in this competition.”
Johnson says he is ready to step-away from the day-to-day aspects of being Scotland coach and concentrate on the bigger picture.
But the former United States boss does admit that he will miss the excitement that comes round every January as the Six Nations build-up begins.
“I’ve coached all around the world and I can say that this is a special tournament,” he said. “It’s quick, it has so much tradition and it really is something to be savoured. I kick myself every day when I get out there because I can’t believe I’m involved in it.
“It’s an honour to be able to say you have been invited to coach here and in this competition. I haven’t experienced it anywhere else in the world and it’s a unique privilege.”