Sam Johnson: ready to rock n’ roll
Sam Johnson is enjoying every minute of his first Rugby World Cup and can’t wait to get out on the pitch with the thistle on his chest.
The centre has earned six caps and scored three tries in his first year playing for Scotland, including a memorable cross of the whitewash during the 38-38 draw against England in this year’s Guinness Six Nations tournament.
His first try for Scotland came against Pool A opponents Ireland in the same competition.
On the change in mood as the first game approaches and the welcome they have received:
“Ever since we came to Tokyo (on Tuesday), it is becoming more and more real. There is a real buzz around the city, everyone is pretty keen to go. We had a good week in Nagasaki where the hospitality was first class. The boys are just ready to rock and roll now.
“We have been given tips on what to do and not to do, but the Japanese people have been first class. We are being treated like kings at the moment. It has been really enjoyable.
“The lengths the Japanese went to in Nagasaki was so welcoming – you could say over the top, but in a good way.”
On the expectations Scottish fans should have for the team:
“You have got to look at the top. We are aware of the challenge ahead of us with Ireland this weekend, so we are just focusing on that game.
“They are number one in the world, but we are confident. They have got a few injuries, but they are going to replace that with real quality as well.
“We are in a different country, so that levels out the playing field. We will see what the conditions are like. The forecast is rain. Whoever rocks up the best and is ready to play will come out on top.”
On how they should deal with Ireland’s threats:
“Their kicking game is going to be a huge strength for them, especially with the weather, if it is going to be wet. We have just got to put as much pressure on their half-back pairing of (Conor) Murray and (Johnny) Sexton. They are world-class players. We will deal with the threats in front of us and have a crack.”
What difference it makes to the Irish midfield with Robbie Henshaw set to miss the game:
“I feel sorry for Robbie, he is a class player and you never want to see anyone down injured or miss out. But saying that, they have got Bundee (Aki), and Garry Ringrose and Chris Farrell, who are all class operators. So we will be aware of the threat, whatever combination they choose.”
What he learned from facing Ireland at BT Murrayfield in this year’s Guinness Six Nations:
“Probably the physicality. They are such a physical team. A lot of their work comes off Murray. Sexton orchestrates it from behind. We are expecting a hugely physical encounter, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the flair out wide to break you on the edges.
“The weather might dictate terms of play, but we are definitely expecting a high level of physicality.”