Johnson sticks with Brown as Scotland skipper

Kelly Brown has been retained as Scotland captain by interim coach Scott Johnson for the Six Nations opener against England at Twickenham on Saturday, it was announced Monday.

Kelly Brown runs through the Tonga defence at Pittodrie in Aberdeen in November. Brown has been retained as Scotland captain by interim coach Scott Johnson for the Six Nations opener against England at Twickenham on Saturday, it was announced Monday.

The 52-times capped Brown retained the role despite leading Scotland to a hat-trick of defeats in all three of their end-of-year internationals in November, including the shock loss to Tonga that led to Andy Robinson's resignation as head coach.

However, Australian coach Johnson said he wanted the Saracens forward to continue in the position for the Calcutta Cup clash.

"It was right and proper that the coaches considered captaincy at the same time as we were looking at selection of our squad for the England game," Johnson explained Monday in a Scottish Rugby Union statement.

"We believe Kelly has the qualities we're looking for to captain Scotland. Captaincy is about deed in my book, not Churchillian oratory, and the knowledge and experience that Kelly brings to the Test match arena is good for this team.

"We are also looking at our leadership group and I'll be naming two vice-captains in the team that we announce tomorrow (Tuesday)."

Brown missed out on captaining Scotland in last year's Six Nations due to a leg injury suffered shortly before the tournament and has not played against England since the corresponding match at Twickenham two years ago.

"As I said back in November, it's a huge honour to captain Scotland," Brown said. "The job now, though, is to work with all the other players in the squad to deliver a performance to make the country proud this weekend.

"It's a while since I've played against England. I missed out through injury in last year's Six Nations and I was sidelined during the Rugby World Cup match in Auckland as well (when England beat Scotland), so I'm really raring to go," Brown added.

Johnson, however, refused to confirm Brown as Scotland captain beyond this weekend's match.

This, although the Australian didn't say so publicly, is down to the fact that Brown's place in the starting side is far from guaranteed.

The 30-year-old played in all three back-row positions in November but faces competition for the No 8 shirt from a revitalised Johnnie Beattie while Alasdair Strokosch and Al Kellock are alternative loose-forward options.

Brown, however, played down any threat to his position by saying: It's not about that. It's not about me, it's about the team. Yes I want to play well, but by playing well that will enable the team to be successful.

"That's what all of the guys in the group have to buy into. It's all about the team."

Scotland, who finished with the wooden spoon in last season's Six Nations, have not won at Twickenham since 1983.

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