Whenever England and Scotland play, sparks are bound to fly in Rugby. The next round of Calcutta Cup clash is set in the RBS 6 Nations when these two ‘Auld Enemies’ face off at Murrayfield. In the wake of this, the recall of John Barclay is being seen as a statement of intent by Scotland coach Vern Cotter.
The return of Barclay to the starting XV is quite a story in itself for someone who is as recently as the World Cup was not seen as good enough for the team. Cotter gave Barclay a cold shoulder for the World Cup but sees the burly forward vital to his plans of tackling the English in the 6 Nations opener.
Barclay’s inclusion at blindside flanker indicates that Scotland would try to approach the game in a specific manner. The best of Barclay is to pick a pass to one of the free-running backs as a number seven and this is where he can make a difference.
He has been playing in the more attacking role of number eight for Scarlets and the coach was quick to complement his abilities saying that he ‘has the skill set for that position’. Cotter was quick to credit Barclay for all the effort he has put to force his way back into the squad.
Cotter knows very well that England under Eddie Jones will try to spring a few surprises of their own. The new coach is brought in to change the fortunes and he would be eager to start well – and if it is against Scotland, England will appreciate it much more.
But, Cotter is not losing sleep thinking what Jones and his staff will offer for his team. What matters for him is the fact that whoever is selected will be capable enough to put it across England. The choice of Barclay clears tells that Cotter has set his mind on breaking the English play and build his team on top of that. Will he be successful in this tactic? Well, the start is just round the corner!