Johnson has no Maitland fears
Scott Johnson thinks Saturday's 6 Nations opener with England is exactly the right occasion for Scotland's Sean Maitland to win his first cap.
The Kiwi qualifies for the Scots on account of his Glasgow-born grandparents and will make his Test debut at Twickenham as his adopted nation go in search of their first Calcutta Cup success in London in 30 years.
But despite the hostile environment his new charge is likely to face, Johnson - who today named a starting XV which mixes youth and experience for the match with Stuart Lancaster's men - insists 24-year-old Glasgow player Maitland is ready for his international introduction.
Johnson said: "It's got to happen sometime, sharks are born swimming.
"He has got good pedigree, but it's an opportunity for him. He does things that coaches can't coach, so I think he's a bit different to a normal Scottish player.
"The Scottish team now has some jet shoes and it is quite nice to have them."
For Maitland, his Six Nations bow will fulfil a family ambition which started back in his boyhood days when his father would wake him in the middle of the night at their Tokoroa home to tune into Scotland matches being played out on the other side of the globe.
Maitland said: "I'm very proud to be given the opportunity to start by Johnno - it's very special and I'm very proud.
"My parents are happy for me too. They are very proud and talking to my dad, he's a man of little emotion, but he definitely showed a lot of emotion when I told him the news."
Maitland, who moved to Glasgow from Crusaders last year, insists his decision to leave the land of his birth had paid off.
He said: "When I came over, international rugby was on my radar. My dad said I had the opportunity to play for Scotland, I'm half-Scottish and it's in my blood, so I was very lucky."
Other notable inclusions in Johnson's squad were stand-off Greig Laidlaw, who replaces retired scrum-half Mike Blair at number nine, and Dougie Hall, who takes former British Lions hooker Ross Ford's jersey for his 40th cap but his first international start in six years.
Johnnie Beattie is also back in a Scotland strip for the first time in 18 months, and Johnson believes this team can compete with the Auld Enemy, who they have not beaten on English soil since 1983.
He said: "We said we were looking for two things - form and future - and I think the side we've picked covers that.
"With Greig, we had a good look at the autumn and we've looked at his form with Edinburgh as well. We are trying to find something a little different in this country, and Greig gives us that.
"If he can go out in a test match and do well at number nine, we have got a kid who can play two positions. I quite like that, the French have done and have been successful.
"Dougie also comes in and he has been terrific. I've been really, really pleased with him. On the back of that, Ross hasn't had much game time, so we thought it was in the best interests of them both if Dougie started. One, to reward Dougie and, two, to ease Ross back into it."
Johnson, meanwhile, refused to rise to the bait laid down by former Scotland boss Jim Telfer in an article with the Daily Mail.
The Five Nations-winning coach branded England too "arrogant" for their own good and claimed Johnson still had to "prove" his coaching credentials.
"For me to sit there and criticise someone's opinion is the height of hypocrisy, so I'm not going to stand there and tell someone what to say."