Captain duties for Barclay

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 that?

"I was disappointed obviously. It is frustrating - the whole Ireland game was frustrating - but it’s part of being a rugby player.

"It’s 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.

"Aside 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 leadership."

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.

“It 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.

“For 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.

"I 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.

"If 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.

"We’ll 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.

"I’ve 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.

"We 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.

"We went to see The Joker last night. It's very good for anyone who hasn't seen it. Ryan (Wilson) does a good impression.

"It's 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.

"I guess we're getting to the pressure stage now where it's do or die."

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