Now 34, Barclay spent the last two seasons of his career with the capital club before retiring last year. He suggested that change had been well overdue when previous coach Richard Cockerill was replaced by Blair in the close season, and is sure that Edinburgh’s players and supporters alike will enjoy the new man’s more expansive game plan.
“You can tell it was a frustrated group,” he said of the squad under Cockerill last season. “Results were even more frustrating. They will be super-excited over what lies ahead and for some it will be like coming into a new team. A new coach coming in can make it feel like a fresh start and it will feel like that for players.
“The team needed to evolve and they will be excited about having the opportunity to evolve their style. Look at some of the guys in the backline, some of whom we didn’t see a lot of last year, like Blair Kinghorn. We want to see these guys on the ball playing an exciting brand of rugby. Playing under Mike’s style, I’m really looking forward to watching Edinburgh this season.”
Edinburgh play Benetton in their second and last pre-season friendly this afternoon, then meet Scarlets next Saturday in their first URC match. They last reached the play-offs two seasons ago, and Barclay thinks that both them and Glasgow have to have that as their ambition again.
“They will be targeting the play-offs,” he added. “Anything less than that they will be frustrated with.”
John Barclay was speaking at the launch of Premier Sports’ coverage of the URC. Every Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh game in the new world-class league will be live on Premier Sports.