Former Glasgow flanker Johnny Barclay is delighted to see an unexpected bonus in his move to Wales – it will give him the first chance to impress Scotland-coach-in-waiting Vern Cotter.
As he settles into the sunshine on the Gower coastline in South Wales, the openside is looking forward to getting the chance to shine himself when Cotter’s Clermont Auvergne play Barclay’s new club Scarlets in the same Heineken Cup pool.
He is recovering from a shoulder operation that led to missing Scotland’s tour to South Africa, expecting to return in the second or third game of the season, hoping to use the move to Wales as a springboard back into the Scotland set-up.
Having not played internationally since the defeat to Tonga last year, the immediate concern for the 41-times capped Barclay is to impress Scotland’s head coach Scott Johnson and forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys. However, he is also looking forward and the chance to lay down a marker with Cotter, who will take over the Scotland reins at the end of the season.
“We have them in our group. It will be a first chance to meet him and see how we play against one of this teams, so that will be interesting,” he admitted. “I’ll be keen to play well in that one.
“Scotland capped a lot of new guys in South Africa so, when the squad meet up in the autumn, there will be a lot of new faces and more competition. I have been around for a while and very frequently there is talk of potential, but we need to play as we did against South Africa in every game and really get stuck in as Scotland teams have at their best in the past.
“Vern will obviously come in a year or so, he will have his own ideas then, but there are a lot of games to be played in the meantime and players do not think too much about that sort of thing.
“I felt at the end of the season, in the last six or seven games, that I was playing some of the best rugby for a long time, so that was encouraging. It was great to help Glasgow into the play-offs and very disappointing to lose in the semi-finals.
“I hope that coming here with different players and a different style of play will really help me. Hopefully, it will freshen things up and invigorate me.”
He is also looking forward to learning from Scarlets coach Simon Easterby, the former Ireland international who was a back row opponent when Barclay first broke into the Glasgow line-up.
“I used to hate playing against him. He had maybe lost a yard of pace by that time. I was young and it was just a nightmare – holding you, winding you up – so there are certainly some tricks to be learned from him,” said Barclay.
Having not wanted to leave Glasgow, Barclay is now looking forward to life in Llanelli. “I have a contract for three years, but already we are talking about possibly staying longer,” he said.