Scotland centre Johnson says his days of supporting Australia are in the past

Scotland centre Sam Johnson insists he is a different person from four years ago – for a start he no longer supports Australia.

The Queensland-born Glasgow centre is looking forward to his first taste of World Cup action on Sunday when his side kicks-off their Pool A campaign against Ireland.

Back in 2015, however, he was celebrating the Dark Blues’ controversial exit at the hands of the Wallabies as referee Craig Joubert’s blunder robbed the Scots of a place in the semi-finals.

Scotland v Italy – Guinness Six Nations – BT Murrayfield Stadium
Scotland’s Sam Johnson is focused on helping Gregor Townsend’s side to World Cup glory (Ian Rutherford/PA)

But Johnson – who qualifies for Gregor Townsend’s team having spent four years at Scotstoun with the Warriors – says his days of cheering on the Aussies are over as he looks to go all the way with this new countrymen.

“I had just arrived in Scotland,” he said as he cast his mind back to that fateful evening at Twickenham. “I was living in a little club flat in Earl Street in Scotstoun. I remember watching that game.

“But I am a different person to the one I was four years ago.

“I was just this kid who had come from Australia so I was cheering for Australia. I did not know any better.

“I had no idea what was going on. I am a completely different person now. I was watching it on my own. I didn’t know anybody back then.

“To be honest I was not taking as much notice (with what happened on Joubert’s mistaken offside call that handed Australia the winning penalty). It happened at the line-out so I had no idea what was going on. I just saw a penalty.”

But Johnson is certain about what he believes Scotland’s aims should be for the weeks ahead.

“I think you’ve got to look to the top,” he said. “We’re aware of the challenge that’s going to be awaiting us against Ireland this weekend and we’re focusing on that game.

“They are number one in the world but we’re confident. We’ve just got to put as much pressure on their half-back pairing of Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton as we can.

WATCH | The Scotland squad visited a local Sumo Wrestling event in the city for a behind the scenes tour and a history lesson on Japan’s national sport 🇯🇵 #AsOnepic.twitter.com/51QQS7XvFn

— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) September 19, 2019

“They’re world-class players but we’ll deal with the threats that are in front of us and have a crack.”

Johnson and the rest of the Scottish delegation have been soaking up as much of the Japanese culture as they can since touching down at their training camp in Nagasaki last week, with an evening at the sumo wrestling next on the agenda.

But it will be soon time to turn attention firmly to Ireland and having faced this weekend’s opponents already this year in the Six Nations – when his first Test try was not enough to prevent a 22-13 defeat – he knows the 2018 Grand Slam winners will be no pushovers.

He said: “I went to the atomic bomb museum in Nagasaki. It was a sobering experience but an interesting one too.

Scotland v Georgia – International Friendly – BT Murrayfield
Scotland’s head coach, Gregor Townsend will have familiar opponents in Ireland in their opening World Cup match (Graham Stuart/PA)

“We’ve had a game of golf and today we’re off to the Sumo wrestling.

“It’s important to enjoy your down time. It’s a long tournament, one which hasn’t even begun for us yet.

“The hospitality in Nagasaki when we had the welcoming ceremony and the lengths the Japanese people went to was really great. You could say over the top but in a good way. It was really cool.

“The Welsh had 15,000 fans turn up at their training. We haven’t really experienced those numbers as yet but we’ll have 74,000 fans inside the stadium in Yokohama on Sunday so it’ll feel pretty special.

Ireland Depart for the Rugby World Cup
Conor Murray is a key man for Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We’ll know we’re in a contest. The thing I took from game when we played Ireland earlier this year is they are such a physical team. A lot of their work comes off Conor Murray with Johnny Sexton orchestrating from in behind.

“So we’re expecting a hugely physical encounter – but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the flair our wide break you on the edges.

“The weather might dictate the terms of play but definitely we’re expecting them to bring their physicality this weekend.”

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