Wales lock Ian Evans has said any verbal tricks played by former coach Scott Johnson ahead of next week’s Six Nations international at Murrayfield will come as no surprise to him.
Whatever else the Australian, in caretaker charge of Scotland, can resist it certainly isn’t a colourful phrase, with the former Ospreys and Wales boss comparing the Scots’ extraordinary come-from-behind victory over Ireland last week to boxing great Muhammad Ali’s ‘rope-a-dope’ defeat of George Foreman in the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in Zaire back in 1974.
“He is quite a character, really,” Evans said of Johnson. “He likes to put himself out in the press, trying to ramble some jargon and trying to play mind-games.
“His worst fear is probably that he’s coached most of the boys within our squad, so we will more or less know how his mindset is.
“So he can ramble as much as he wants, it just becomes pretty boring in the end,” Evans said.
“Rugby is a pretty basic game, isn’t it? I don’t think you need to add fuel to the fire,” the down-to-earth second row insisted.
“There is no doubt that there will be [mind games next week]. But, like I said, it’s boring, for me anyway.”
The Scots are level on points with second-placed Wales, and still in title contention, after two victories from three Tests with Johnson the first Scotland coach in 13 years to oversee back-to-back Six Nations wins.
“I am not surprised by it,” Evans said. “He has been around international rugby with Wales and Australia, and he’s obviously with Scotland now.
“So he is a very experienced coach, to be fair to him. He knows what he’s doing and you’ve got to respect that.”
Evans has never previously played for Wales at Murrayfield, where Scotland have lost three times from the last four fixtures between the countries – but he expects a fierce contest with in-form Scottish second rows Jim Hamilton and Richie Gray.
“They are quality players,” he added. “They play in the Aviva [English] Premiership, where set-piece is a main part of the game.
“Hamilton is massively under-rated. He is a great player. But I have got confidence in my ability, and when you play international rugby you want to play against the very best players.
“It’s going to be an interesting day at the office.
“You saw them against Ireland with their lineout defence. They caused them a lot of worry and didn’t give them much clean ball, so they pose a big threat, but it’s up to us to counteract that.”