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Coach's quick exit casts shadow

As Scott Johnson unveiled his plans for the national team's immediate and long-term future, it emerged last night that another senior figure in the Scottish professional game may have parted company with the governing body.

Phil Greening, the former England and British & Irish Lions hooker, was appointed as head coach of the Scotland sevens squad only five months ago but is believed to have departed already. A source indicated that "personal reasons" had been cited as a major factor but his record has been abysmal and Scotland are now placed 15th in the overall standings and are struggling to maintain their status as a core nation guaranteed participation in major tournaments.

It is all part of a bleak picture which confronts Johnson, Scotland's interim head coach, as he seeks to find a winning RBS 6 Nations Championship formula at a time when the latest results registered by Edinburgh and Glasgow mean they are both now poised to go through their Heineken Cup campaigns without a win.

Naturally he was determined to emphasise what positives he could after naming a 35-man squad for next week's training camp.

"It is what it is," he said of that dismal Heineken Cup form. "Sure I can't do anything much about that, but I'm confident enough that I've got a spine of a team that, if everyone's fully fit, will be able to compete against anyone.

"It's not a perfect world which we've selected from, but there have been some positive signs in the European games as well. I'm a half-full man myself so I'd myself so I'd rather work off that than be dragged down somewhere else."

The January 20-23 camp will, appropriately, take place in Glasgow given that no fewer than 19 Warriors and six more who emerged from their ranks – Johnny Beattie, Kelly Brown, Max Evans, Richie Gray, Euan Murray and Richie Vernon -–are all included. Three more Warriors – John Barclay, Chris Cusiter and Jon Welsh – and another of their former players, Scott Lawson, have, along with the Edinburgh pair Nick De Luca and Ross Rennie, been invited to be with the squad as they recover from injury.

Johnson emphasised that his main criteria had been "form and future" and has consequently included 10 uncapped players in Glasgow's Alex Dunbar, Chris Fusaro, Peter Horne, Sean Kennedy, Sean Maitland, Pat MacArthur, Peter Murchie, Tommy Seymour and Ryan Wilson as well as the Edinburgh lock Grant Gilchrist.

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