SRU determined to keep hold of Johnson
March 25, 2013
Scott Johnson took Scotland's reins on an interim basis following the departure of Andy Robinson © PA Photos
The Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) has warned off any potential suitors for Scotland interim head coach Scott Johnson.
The straight-talking Australian coach took on the Scotland reins on a temporary basis at the end of last year following the departure of Andy Robinson and he has since overseen a reversal in their fortunes with Six Nations victories over Italy and Ireland restoring their battered pride having been humbled by Tonga in the autumn.
Scotland are currently conducting a worldwide search for a new permanent head coach with Johnson one of the leading contenders given the national side's recent resurgence. However, Johnson, who will lead Scotland to South Africa in the summer, has been linked with a return home with the Australian Rugby Union reportedly keen for him to replace David Nucifora as head of their high performance unit.
But the SRU are clearly keen to retain the services of Johnson regardless of whether he is put in control of the side on a permanent basis or not. Johnson stepped up from the post of senior assistant coach to fill the void left by Robinson but reportedly signed a contract with the SRU last year to help develop coaches in Scotland through to the 2015 World Cup.
And as a result the SRU has issued a 'hands off' warning to anyone hoping to lure him away. "As far as Scott Johnson is concerned he is contracted to Scottish Rugby," an SRU spokesman told the Edinburgh Evening News.
"The present situation with his interim head coaching position is that he is coach until the South African tour (in June). But he has another job with Scottish Rugby which is on the performance side and bringing through the next generation of coaches."
Asked recently if he wanted the Scotland job on a permanent basis, Johnson said: "I want to sit down and see the plan for Scotland and where they see I fit. That's really important. I'm not here to delude you, or pretend anything else. I really like coaching the boys but I like my old job, too [coaching coaches]. So I want to make sure I'm a fit for Scotland and they're a fit for me. There's nothing wrong with that. I just want to make sure the suit fits."
Reports have also suggested that a coaching merry-go-round could see Reds coach Ewen McKenzie, who has signalled his intent to quit the Super Rugby side at the end of the current season to further his hopes of coaching at international level, take on the Scotland hotseat. Any such move would see him link up with assistant coach Matt Taylor who left Queensland to join the Scotland set-up last year.
The SRU spokesman said: "It has been mentioned that there have been speculative remarks in the Australian press about Ewen McKenzie going to Ireland and the next spot (if that fell through) seems to be Scotland. But it is just speculation."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.