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Last Updated: Monday, 6 March 2006, 16:58 GMT
Williams reveals Johnson support
Scott Johnson
Johnson is pondering an offer from the Australian Rugby Union
Shane Williams says every member of the Wales squad wants Scott Johnson to resist Australia's advances and commit himself to the Six Nations champions.

Caretaker coach Johnson is expected to decide "within a week" if he will take up a post as assistant with Australia.

Williams said: "I know I speak for the boys that we don't want to see him go.

"He's brought so much to the team and makes the game a lot easier for the players. He is certainly one of the best coaches I have worked under."

Johnson's future will dominate much of the build-up to Saturday's Six Nations match with Italy at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

And winger Williams admits the players are struggling to keep the off-field uncertainly at the back of their minds.

Scott's mulling over which way to go. We would have him on board with us
Australia coach John Connolly

"It's been a strange month to be honest," said Williams, who should return to the Wales side after missing the last outing against Ireland with injury.

"A lot of things are out of the players' control, and we've just got to do our talking on the field."

Johnson, 43, had talks with new Australia coach John Connolly last week and was offered a three-year deal with the Wallabies, who are also keen to recruit Bath's Michael Foley as forwards coach.

"I would think in the next week or so we'll know where we stand," Connolly told Five Live's Sportsweek on Sunday.

"He's coming at it from all angles but I think the family factor is fairly large. He's been away four years and he's got a son who's 17."

Connolly added: "It's a difficult situation, especially when some of his children are still at an age when they like to see their dad a fair bit - they're not grown up.

I would love to remain in Wales if I can resolve some of my personal issues in Australia
Scott Johnson
"Scott's mulling over which way to go. We would have him on board with us. We've had a couple of good chats."

Outgoing special projects manager Paul Thorburn revealed the Welsh Rugby Union has already drawn up plans to find a new coach in the event of Johnson's departure.

"I have not agreed a contract with the Australian Rugby Union," Johnson said last Thursday when confirming he is mullling over the offer.

"I have said all along that I would love to remain in Wales if I can resolve some of my personal issues in Australia.

"At present, I am concentrating all my efforts on preparing the team for the games against Italy and France and I won't be allowing anything to get in the way of that."

Johnson - with Wales as skills coach since February 2001 - was put in temporary charge of the national side following Mike Ruddock's shock departure a fortnight ago.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Australia coach John Connolly



SEE ALSO
Johnson to meet Australia coach
01 Mar 06 |  Six Nations
Johnson 'did not covet' Wales job
15 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Ruddock steps down as Wales coach
14 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Johnson close to Australia return
02 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Ailing Wallabies turn to Connolly
02 Feb 06 |  Rugby Union


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