Six Nations 2013: Wales ponder Scotland coach Johnson factor

 

RBS SIX NATIONS: SCOTLAND V WALES

  • Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
  • Date: Saturday, 9 March
  • Kick-off: 14:30 GMT

Coverage: Live commentary on BBC One, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & online; live text commentary online; highlights & analysis on Scrum V Six Nations Special on Sunday, 10 March from 19:00 GMT

Hooker Richard Hibbard expects interim Scotland coach Scott Johnson to indulge in "mind games" before Wales' Six Nation trip to Murrayfield on Saturday.

Lock Ian Evans is unfazed by facing the coach who was involved with Wales from 2001-2006 and who coached him and Hibbard at the Ospreys from 2009-2012.

And Wales pack coach Robin McBryde believes the Johnson factor will not have a major bearing on the game.

But 21-cap Hibbard, 29, said: "He knows the ins and outs of us all."

However, Hibbard also agrees with McBryde's view, predicting that Wales can overcome Johnson's insight into their camp by doing the unexpected.

Wales and Scotland retain hopes of winning the 2013 title, but the losing team will effectively be out of the running.

Hibbard said: "The reason he [Johnson] picked us for the squads we were in was because of our strengths.

"We are not going to go away from them.

"He knows what he is getting and he knows what he has to do stop us, but we will do stuff that won't let him do that.

"Most of the boys he has coached will be playing.

"He knows the ins and outs of us all and there will probably be some mind games in the press this week off him. I am looking forward to it."

Hibbard has emerged as a key figure in the recent wins over France and Italy amid a rivalry with Scarlets hookers Ken Owens and Matthew Rees.

But Johnson publicly questioned Hibbard's fitness in January 2012.

Six Nations: Scrum V previews Scotland v Wales

"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."

Johnson left the Ospreys in February 2012 after he announced he was to become Andy Robinson's assistant coach with Scotland, but Robinson quit as head coach in December and Johnson has the task for the 2013 Six Nations.

Hibbard, prop Adam Jones, locks Evans and Alun Wyn Jones, flankers Ryan Jones and Justin Tipuric and half-backs Mike Phillips and Dan Biggar were coached by Johnson at the Ospreys.

Australian Johnson helped guide the Welsh region to the Celtic League title in 2010 having first arrived in Wales in 2001 as an assistant to Graham Henry when the New Zealander was in charge of the Welsh national team.

Johnson remained under the Steve Hansen and Mike Ruddock regimes that followed.

And he became Wales interim coach following Ruddock's mid-2006 Six Nations departure.

He returned to Australia as their assistant coach ahead of the 2007 World Cup and was back in Wales, with the Ospreys, in 2009.

But 12 months after Johnson left Wales to initially become Scotland assistant coach under Andy Robinson, former Wales hooker McBryde said: "I think it works both ways, doesn't it?

"And quite a bit of water's gone under the bridge since then so no, I don't think it will be too much of a factor."