SAM JOHNSON may have grown up thousands of miles away from England, but that doesn’t mean his desire to beat the Auld Enemy is any weaker than that of the most passionate Scots.

“What I will say is that no one likes England,” the 26-year-old said.

“Whether it’s cricket, rugby or any sport, you want to win. You fully respect England because of how good they are, but I don’t think anyone likes them when you’re growing up.

“We have the greatest respect for England because they are so good, you almost hate them for it.”

His strength of emotion, and his keen desire to beat England, may well come in handy on Saturday.

The Scots host the English at Murrayfield as the home side attempt to retain the Calcutta Cup they have won the previous two years. And while the centre, who hails from Queensland in Australia and qualifies to play for Scotland on residency grounds, admits he was not aware of the scale of the rivalry between Scotland and England when he was growing up, his five years in this country have got him up to speed.

Johnson made his Six Nations debut last year and it didn’t take long for him to make his mark, playing a pivotal role in the in the 38-38 draw with England.

The clash a year ago was one of their most remarkable fixtures in their history, with England racing to a 31 point lead at Twickenham, Scotland clawing the score back before Johnson’s late try put them in front in what looked to everyone to have secured a famous victory for the Scots. However, at the death, England levelled, with the visitors distraught at blowing their chance to beat their great rivals on their home patch for the first time in 26 years.

The game may have been 12 months ago, but it remains fresh in Johnson’s mind.

“Last year was pretty unique,” the Glasgow Warriors man said.

“There were some tough memories followed by some of the memories I will remember for the rest of my life.

“It was a great occasion. I remember after the game being totally gutted because it’s a game we should have won.You wouldn’t have thought that half an hour into it.

“From our point of view as Scotland players, we were disappointed because the opposition were celebrating the draw.”

“We were disappointed we had drawn. I was in shock with what I had achieved in scoring the try, but I honestly didn’t think I’d won the game at that point because Test match rugby is a different animal from everything else. And then they came back and got the draw.”

Scotland may be the Calcutta Cup holders but there is no doubt as to who the favourites are going into Saturday’s clash at Murrayfield. Eddie Jones’ men were runners-up at the World Cup last year while Scotland left Japan having exited before the knock-out stages.

But Scotland are often at their best when they are underdogs. Both sides lost their opening Six Nations fixtures last weekend with Gregor Townsend’s side being defeated by Ireland while France defeated England.

The Scots may have been on the wrong end of the scoreline in Dublin but there was much to be encouraged about.

Johnson knows his side need a similar level of performance this weekend when they face England, but without quite so many errors. And he knows he and his compatriots must be ready for the physicality the English will bring

“I think we need to repeat that performance,” the centre said of this weekend fixture.

“We started really well, although we had a bit of a different plan going into it.

“They showed us different pictures and we exploited the gaps really well.

“It’s just disappointing that some of our finishing wasn’t quite there yet.

“(On Saturday), it’s going to be two teams who are desperate and who are going to be as physical as possible – and see who comes out on top.”