The Wales coach said: "He's always got a lot to say, hasn't he? Let's see what he has got to offer and how he fronts up against us."
Welsh passion motivates Johnson
At the official launch of the Six Nations in London on Tuesday, Gatland said he did not regret his comments, saying: "There's always a bit of spice between England and Wales. We will see how Dylan responds."
Hartley has not endeared himself to the Wales camp this season, notably in two explosive Heineken Cup matches between Saints and Cardiff Blues, both won by the English side.
Then Blues' Wales scrum-half Richie Rees received a
after being cited for making contact with Hartley's face during the
a week later.
But Johnson has backed his player to ignore Gatland's comments.
"The good thing from our point of view is Dylan Hartley has been down to Wales in a tough European game, taken what they have thrown at him on the field, produced a winning performance as captain and taken a team into the knock-out stages of the Heineken Cup," stated Johnson.
"To be top of the Premiership and come through Europe unbeaten, that takes some doing.
"He's not a young guy anymore, he's got 20-odd caps and he's captained his club in his second season.
"This kind of thing brings teams together. You rally round guys when they have been singled out. You look after your own."
Johnson dismissed Gatland's outburst and alluded to Wales' poor record of late, going seven matches without a victory.
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