Barclay defends Scotland squad over response to Ireland defeat
The former captain says players have faced accusations that they look like they do not care.
John Barclay says accusations that Scotland’s players look like they do not care have “hurt” the squad and has defended their right to enjoy their downtime.
Gregor Townsend’s men have undergone a week of soul searching since their calamitous defeat to Ireland in Yokohama last Sunday.
Slowly but surely the players have started to re-emerge from their dejection and have been spotted taking in the sights of Kobe, where they face Samoa on Monday.
Vice-captain Barclay knows a win against the Pacific Islanders would be the perfect way to put a smile back on the faces of the nation’s disgruntled supporters and said dwelling on the Ireland performance would be detrimental.
The Edinburgh back-rower said: “The aftermath of last week’s game wasn’t very nice for various reasons, but we’ve moved on. We’ve got other games to play, so we have moved on.
“The first couple of days were pretty crap. You analyse it, overanalyse it and go over it and over it again. It’s something we don’t take lightly.
“I’ve heard some people say it looks like we don’t care, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
“That hurts players and we take that on board, but we have tried to have fun.
“We’re not going to sit in our hotel rooms and cry for a week. We can’t do that, so we’ve been out exploring. We’re here at a World Cup, it’s a great opportunity and we’ve got another opportunity on Monday against Samoa.
“I understand some people find it potentially frustrating to see us out and some people see a snippet on social media and it looks like people don’t care.
“But the reality is we do care, but we can’t stay in our rooms and just do nothing because that would be ridiculous and not good for the culture, and the boys have got to move on, have fun and remind ourselves we’ve got a big game this week.”
As a former Scotland captain himself, Barclay knows the dark moments that Stuart McInally – the new holder of that position – will have faced this week.
But he says the senior members of the squad have gathered around the hooker to ensure he does not bear the burden of lifting the squad himself.
“It’s not just been Stuart to be honest,” he explained. “Guys have helped. My experience of being captain is that it can be quite lonely at times.
“I definitely felt that when you talk during the week about what you’re going to do as captain… if you have a bad game, then you feel kind of hypocritical.
It's been a bit of a group effort to work out how we can improve, how can we fix problems
- John Barclay
“I’d analyse myself and then think, ‘How can you say these things when you perform like that?’
“So it’s hard being a captain from that point of view and that’s why you have a group of leaders who help.
“We’ve got experienced guys throughout to help Rambo (McInally) and it’s been a bit of a group effort to work out how we can improve, how can we fix problems, because ultimately we want to qualify from the group and we’ve still got a chance to do that.”
Scotland were always the outsiders against Joe Schmidt’s team, but they gifted Ireland victory with the number of crucial errors they made at the International Stadium.
Barclay is adamant there will be no repeat of that horror show in Kobe.
“I don’t think it will happen again, certainly not this week,” he declared. “You can overanalyse everything, try to find solutions.
“Probably what’s more important is we prepare right for this week and get it right this week, rather than keep looking back.”