Captain duties for Barclay
John Barclay will captain the Scotland side to face Russia in tomorrow's penultimate Rugby World Cup fixture. Speaking to media, the skipper talks about being back leading the team and last week's performance against Samoa.
You were one of the
players to miss out on the Samoa game after the Ireland defeat. How tough was
“I was disappointed obviously. It
is frustrating – the whole Ireland game was frustrating – but it’s part of
being a rugby player.
the first time I have been left out of the squad since I have been back
involved a couple of years ago. It’s been tough, but the boys played really
well against Samoa and I am just excited about playing Russia now.”
How does it feel to
captain the team again (for the first time since the 2018 Guinness Six Nations)?
“I have always loved captaining the
team. It’s a strange one because it comes with pressures and responsibilities.
When you are not captain it is a bit more relaxing, but it’s still a massive
honour, especially in the World Cup.
from that, it doesn’t change a great deal. You still have other experienced
guys around – whether it be Ryan Wilson or Duncan Taylor – to help bring that
Is this your chance to
force your way into contention for the match against Japan?
“The big game for me is Russia – I have no idea what the team will be for
Japan. I guess the reality is that the guys who are playing against Russia will
be on the outskirts for the next game.
doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. But, equally, for the guys
who are playing against Russia, there is huge motivation to get involved for
that Japan match.
me, it is about putting in a big performance and proving I deserve to be
involved against Japan.”
How did you rate the
back-row of Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie and Blade Thomson in the Samoa game?
“They were rubbish! They were
good, weren’t they? I’ve played enough with Maggie (Bradbury) and Jamie at
Edinburgh, so I know the quality they have, and I know enough about Blade from
speaking to the boys at Scarlets about the qualities he has, and just being
around him here.
knew there would be a reaction. I didn’t doubt the back-row would play well. It
was a physical game and the boys played really well.”
How do you avoid getting
frustrated against Russia in search of a bonus point?
“I’ve played enough of these games
where if you try to score four tries before you score one, you can get in a bit
of trouble. We’re not thinking about that early on.
it gets to 70 minutes and we’ve only scored one that might become the case, but
we have to back ourselves and not try to score the fourth before we’ve scored
the third. We need to back our process, our skills, grind them down.
back ourselves and we’re confident, but we’ve seen the trouble they’ve given
every team they’ve played. They’re physical, hard at the breakdown, they make
things niggly and awkward. When they have the ball, they’re abrasive and direct – and they’re hard.
We’re under no illusions about it.”
Do you think the team has a point to prove?
“There’s five guys who haven’t
played at all and they’re champing at that bit. We’ve been here over four weeks
now and they haven’t played a minute of rugby, so that’s frustrating for them.
not played a huge amount in four weeks, so throughout the squad there’s points
to prove about selection. But also points to prove to themselves.
“Guys want to get out there, it’s the World Cup and a big stage and it’s great
to be able to play for Scotland again.”
How have you spent your
time away from rugby?
“You’re always looking for this
stuff! We’ve played a lot of cards, which doesn’t sound very interesting. We
spent a lot of time playing indoor cricket.
don’t have bundles of time with travelling to and from training and all the
other stuff we have to do in terms of recovery and looking at computers.
went to see The Joker last night. It’s very good for anyone who hasn’t seen it.
Ryan (Wilson) does a good impression.
been fun to be honest. We’ve been away for more than four weeks now but I
haven’t felt any discontent. Everyone is enjoying themselves.
guess we’re getting to the pressure stage now where it’s do or die.”