John Barclay will be ecstatic to return to the Scottish international side after several seasons in the wilderness, despite being outstanding for Pro12 team Scarlets.
Although named in a team to start in his preferred position of open-side flanker this weekend, John Barclay hasn’t played for Scotland since November 2013. He has been in top form the Scarlets and could strengthen the Scottish break down.
Known for his leadership, turnovers, great supporting runs and defensive tackling, Barclay was surprisingly left out of Vern Cotters Six Nations squad this year, which left many pundits and Scottish fans baffled.
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His return to the international squad will be received most gratefully by the Scarlets man, who has stood in as captain for several games.
Barclay told the BBC he was surprised to be invited to train with Scotland for the World Cup, after being overlooked during the Six Nations. However I believe that this call up has been a long time in coming, as Scotland have been without a specialist open-side for too long and have suffered because of it.
Since Barclay has been left in the wilderness and Ross Rennie struggled with injury and eventually retired, Scotland have used Kelly Brown and Blair Cowan at seven, despite both usually playing ether eight or on the blindside.
These selections have given Scotland physical clout but have left them lacking in players who can threaten at the breakdown. Barclay will also provide leadership up front.
Something I feel has been lacking since Kelly Brown, John Beattie and Allie Kellock have stopped featuring regularly, with only Ross Ford having much in the way of captaincy experience if Grant Gilchrist doesn’t play.