After missing the first two months of this season with a knee injury, and then enduring another frustrating month of limited activity when two Covid close-contacts in quick succession forced him into isolation, Sam Johnson believes he has finally managed to build some form though regular game-time for Glasgow Warriors.

And he is determined to play his part in helping improve Scotland’s miserable recent record against Ireland when the two sides meet at Murrayfield on Sunday.

The centre missed out on the initial training squad for this year’s Six Nations with head coach Gregor Townsend explaining that the 27-year-old did not have enough recent game time under his belt but earned a recall during the build-up to Scotland’s round three match against France and was supposed to start that game before it was postponed due to a Covid outbreak in the French camp.

Instead, he was released back to play for Glasgow against Leinster that weekend and picked up another full match – minus 10 minutes in the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle – in last Saturday’s victory at Zebre, so believes he is now in prime condition as he sets about making the Scotland No12 jersey his own again.

“I’m pretty happy, it was my third game in a row at the weekend which was the first time that has happened since this time last year,” he said. “To play consecutive rugby is always a bonus. I was disappointed not to be in the original squad, but I completely understood. I was sitting in isolation for the best part of a month fully fit. But that’s Covid isn’t it. You saw in that first game against England with the Saracens boys, they hadn’t played since the autumn and they looked a bit undercooked watching that game. “Hopefully I get picked and go from there,” he added. “I played a fair bit before this year, so it is about getting that consistency again. As a person I play my best rugby when I play continuously, week after week, and I haven’t had the chance to do that this season. Hopefully, we will see who Gregor picks and if I get an opportunity to wear the 12 jersey this week, I will take it with both hands and give it my best crack.”

Sunday’s visitors have come out on top in 10 of the last 12 meeting between the two nations, and while the 27-3 hammering in Yokohama on the opening weekend of the 2019 World Cup in Japan was undoubtedly the most painful of those defeats, the 31-16 loss in Dublin in the 3rd/4th place play-off of the Autumn Nations Cup was also hard to swallow – especially as it prompted some pretty savage remarks in the Irish media about Scotland being delusional in their aspirations.

“They always talk themselves up, they always talk a great game – they have some deluded notion that they are better than they are,” said former Ireland head coach Eddie O’Sullivan. “These guys haven’t won here in ten years – they’ve won three times against Ireland in nearly 20 years. They talk themselves up, they come in, and then they implode. We have seen this time and time again.”

As a laidback Australian who qualifies to play for Scotland through the three-year residency rule, Johnson is not the type of character to be sucked into trash talking in the papers, but he doesn’t flinch when asked if this weekend’s game can change the general trend of recent encounters.

“We know the test that is going to come against Ireland,” he said. “We seem to have played them a lot over the last couple of years and they've probably had the upper hand, but I feel that a lot of things have changed in camp, everyone is really enjoying each other's company, and we will prepare well this week and give it our best shot on Sunday.

“We know what to expect. They will have a big physical forward pack and they have flair out wide. It will be a physical battle, and whoever wins that – whether at the breakdown or the gain line – probably wins the game.

“We want to continue the momentum the boys had built,” he added. “I was in camp for that France week, and it was really disappointing not to play that game. It is probably a bit harder for me to comment because I wasn't in camp for the first two games, but from the outside it looked like everyone is happy, enjoying each other's company, and wanting to play for each other.”