/ Six Nations 2014

Scotland interim coach Scott Johnson says Ireland 'will come out swinging'

Updated: Saturday, 01 Feb 2014 13:37 | Comments

Scott Johnson will hand over the reins as Scotland head coach to Vern Cotter after the Six Nations
Scott Johnson will hand over the reins as Scotland head coach to Vern Cotter after the Six Nations

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Scotland interim head coach Scott Johnson has told his players to expect an Irish onslaught with more punch than the one they saw last year.

Scotland barely got a touch of the ball in the bruising first half battle at Murrayfield last year as Ireland grabbed hold of 78 per cent of the possession and 80 per cent of the territory.

Yet they failed to take their chances as Scotland somehow notched up an unlikely 12-8 win.

The sides now meet again at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday in their opening Championship clash but Johnson believes the hosts will not be so wasteful with their openings this time.

Reflecting on last year's game, Johnson told PA Sport: "I don't think we can do the same again as we did that day. They will come out swinging at us so we need to understand that we have to be competitive in both field position and quality of possession.

"We know this and are not running away from that fact. If it goes down that road it will be a hard day at the office for us."

"If we get on the front foot it only puts the pressure on our opponents" - Scott Johnson

Johnson is gearing up for his final five matches as Scotland boss before handing over to Vern Cotter in the summer.

But after inheriting a feeble squad from Andy Robinson in 2012, he believes he will leave behind a side that is now at least capable of going toe-to-toe with their Northern Hemisphere rivals.

"We are still growing," said Johnson after making four changes to the side which lost 21-15 to Australia in November. "The nucleus of this team will be much better in two years' time. They will be strong and much more experienced.

"So there is a lot of growth in this team still to be done but I am happy that we have got a lot of competition.

"I have said all along that I want it to be hard to pick a national team and I can honestly say this was a difficult one for us to decide on. We had a lot of names on the table for certain areas and it took a lot of discussion.

"That's a good thing for Scotland. This is a competition that we need and we want to be competitive in.

"If we are competitive and get some scoreboard pressure then it's good news for us, because every reporter right now is asking every other coach 'Do you expect to beat Scotland?'

"If we get on the front foot it only puts the pressure on our opponents."

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