Thursday, 2 Feb 2017 : Doing the sums on John Barclay’s career leads you to quite a conclusion, one that takes the man himself by surprise if the sharply raised eyebrows are anything to go by.
Barclay is 30 years old and to say he’s been around a while doesn’t quite cut it. He was in his first Scotland training squad when he was only 18, he won his first cap when he was 20, he’s been around the scene with his country for 12 years, or, put it another way, 40% of his life.
“That’s actually a bit scary,” he says, overlooking Scotland’s indoor training pitch at Oriam in Edinburgh. Then he recalls a line that somebody hit him with recently, a theory about Barclay playing through three generations of the Scotland team.
It’s a bit of an exaggeration – and no doubt was intended as a wind-up – but the truth is that Gordon Bulloch – who won his last cap in 2005 – was leading the team when Barclay first emerged as a teenager, then it was Scott Murray who was captain for his debut in 2007 – Murray’s last season as a Test player – and, after that, Jason White, who hung ’em up in 2009.
“I do feel like I’ve been around a long time. It’s all I’ve ever done, it’s all I’ve ever known since school.” Saturday against Ireland will be Barclay’s 50th start for Scotland and his 56th cap in all. He’s not going to ape the line about this being Scotland’s best squad since 1999, a thought which is in vogue right now.
He says he doesn’t care about that stuff. He’s heard it before and it hasn’t come off. “A lot of people say Scotland could be dark horses and, for me, it’s quite embarrassing afterwards if you have said that and you don’t win lots of games.”
So he won’t say it. He’ll talk about the class in the side, the game-breakers, the confidence he has in them putting their best foot forward, but this comparison with 1999? “The 1999 team only became the 1999 team when they won the championship. You get respect only when you win.”
“Joe Schmidt teams are organised – they won’t miss Sexton”
Johnny Sexton has been ruled out of Saturday’s Six Nations opener at Murrayfield. It’s a big deal, a very big deal.
Sexton is world class. Paddy Jackson, his replacement, is a fine player who played fly-half when 14-man Ireland beat South Africa in Cape Town in the summer.
But for all his qualities Jackson doesn’t possess Sexton’s presence and influence. Sexton has played in four of the last five Six Nations meetings between the sides. That’s four wins (and 15 tries) when he was in the Ireland team and one loss (and one try) when he was injured and Jackson was in place.
Barclay is unmoved by all of this. He treats this news of a wounding blow to Ireland’s chances with something approaching disinterest. He has years of experience of this stuff. False hope, false dawn, crashing fall.
“Teams under Joe Schmidt are very organised. The guys coming in tend to know exactly what they’re doing. You’ve got a guy there (Jackson) who played very well in the summer and who plays very well for Ulster. I don’t think it will make too much difference.”
Source By: Internet