sport

Johnson earns Hall praise

Hooker Dougie Hall is relishing his place in a new-look Scotland set-up under interim coach Scott Johnson.

The Australian is in charge on a temporary basis after replacing Andy Robinson, who announced his departure after a winless autumn series concluded with a shock 21-15 defeat to Tonga.

Hall alluded to his guilt over Robinson's departure - "It was quite apparent that we had effectively lost him his job" - but spoke enthusiastically about life under Johnson's stewardship.

The Glasgow forward, who is aiming to win his 40th cap when Scotland begin their RBS 6 Nations campaign against England on February 2, told Press Association Sport: "It certainly gives you a bit of a kick up the backside.

"Everything starts from a new viewpoint. You are impressing a new man up top and it's great to have the young guys in because they always bring in a bit of a bounce and they are really excited to be here.

"They just remind you of how much of a privilege it is to be at a Scotland training camp.

"It's still very new and I think it will take a while to get to understand what he and Dean Ryan want us to do as a group, but that is exciting as well. It freshens it up and we'll see how that takes us forward."

Johnson, whose training camp for the Six Nations includes 10 uncapped players, is a plain-speaking character and Hall believes that is exactly what Scotland need as they look to improve on last season's bitterly disappointing campaign, when they failed to win a point.

"You have to be very honest in this job, with yourself and with each other," said Hall. "If you're not, you won't make any progress.

"If you are hiding behind something and not telling yourself the truth about why things are going wrong, then you have got no chance.

"Johnno is strong at that and he is a good communicator."

Back-row forwards Johnnie Beattie and David Denton took some part in training yesterday but were still hampered by injury.

Beattie reported for training with a wrist problem following Montpellier's Heineken Cup win over Toulon over Saturday while Denton failed a fitness test on his knee ahead of Edinburgh's weekend clash with Saracens.