Scott Johnson insists RBS Six Nations Championship holders Wales have nothing to prove to a sceptical Welsh public when they begin life after Mike Ruddock in Dublin on Sunday.
Ruddock's departure as Wales coach last week sent shockwaves through the sport and the fall-out is continuing daily.
Against that backdrop, caretaker boss Johnson must prepare his players for a game that promises to make or break Wales' Six Nations campaign.
Victory over Ireland at Lansdowne Road, a ground where Wales have not won since 2000, would keep alive hopes of retaining their title.
Defeat would effectively eliminate them from the race for the silverware, leaving Johnson with a considerable task to salvage the campaign when Italy and France visit Cardiff next month.
The Irish challenge was always going to be a pivotal match for Wales during this season's tournament, but the players are under a piercing spotlight following Ruddock's exit.
Although family reasons were given as the official explanation for Ruddock leaving, most Welsh supporters have identified so-called player power as a major reason for him departing, less than a year after Wales were crowned Grand Slam champions of Europe.
"I can't speak for the man in the street and I don't know what has been written and said, neither do I really care," said Johnson.
"For the moment, my job is to put out a team I feel is representative of this country.
"I think for the tenure I have been here, I've seen the dark and light side of this team. I have seen them in their darkest hours and I have seen them in their greatest hours.
"This team doesn't have to prove anything to any fair-minded Welshman, because they have proved it.
"They are the hardestworking bunch of people I have ever been involved with, so if anyone wants to say otherwise, they are coming from a position of ignorance rather than knowledge."
Johnson's preparations for his first match at the helm have been further hampered by the loss of inspirational captain Gareth Thomas, who is struggling to play again this season after damaging an artery in his neck.
No 8 Michael Owen has taken over as skipper, with Lee Byrne drafted in as fullback replacement for Thomas, while an injured Shane Williams is being replaced on the wing by Dafydd James.
"Gareth is a big player and he is a big loss," said Johnson. "We lost him last season and won a Grand Slam. He represents all that is good with the team and that is why the aura of Alfie [Thomas] will always be around us."
Johnson has been appointed to take charge for Wales' three remaining Six Nations fixtures and there is still uncertainty about his future after Wales wind up their campaign against Millennium Stadium visitors France on March 18.
The Australian, who is hugely popular among the players, has pressing family issues back home, while he is also a major target for the Australian Rugby Union to join a new-look Wallabies coaching team.
Johnson has once again stressed that those family matters must take priority, but there are still those who believe he will eventually succeed Ruddock on a long-term basis.
"They could offer me the world and it wouldn't matter," Johnson insisted.
"My decision and my future will be based purely on interests that lie abroad, things that I have put outside rugby for some time.
"It will be based purely on the needs of others, not the interests of Scott Johnson.
"We are talking through it - it is difficult regarding time-frames and things change daily - but it won't be a rugby decision and it was never going to be a rugby decision.
"I had the opportunity to apply for the (Wales) job before," he added. "I chose not to do that and the sequence of events has thrown this at me now.
"If someone can come up with a person who fits the bill for this team that is better and it means me staying at No 2, I would be happy to do that.
"Wales has become a big part of my life. It would be difficult to leave Wales and I would be desperate not to leave Wales.
"But there are issues that go beyond rugby and I have said all along this is not about Scott Johnson."