Belfast Telegraph

Barclay fired up for a mammoth Euro showdown with Leinster

By Andrew Baldock

Scotland captain John Barclay is ready to embrace "comfortably the biggest game" of his Scarlets career tomorrow.

The Welsh side face Champions Cup opponents Leinster at Dublin's Aviva Stadium in their first European semi-final since 2007.

Barclay's time in Llanelli is nearing its conclusion after a five-year stint - he joins Edinburgh this summer - and possible European title glory would represent a dream send-off.

The 71-times-capped flanker was pivotal to Scarlets winning the PRO12 last season, which included beating Leinster in Dublin at the penultimate knockout stage.

But the stakes are now considerably higher as Barclay and company look to knock out the unbeaten tournament favourites whose European scalps this term make for impressive reading - Saracens, Exeter, Montpellier and Glasgow.

"It's comfortably the biggest game I've been involved in since I've been at the Scarlets," Barclay said.

"The final of the PRO12 last season was fantastic, but this is Europe and we haven't been in the semi-final for 11 years.

"The guys are just excited about what we've achieved. We want to keep the journey going.

"Part of the reason I came (to the Scarlets) was because I thought this was a big club. It's got a lot of tradition and I always enjoyed the way Scarlets played.

"We are not under any illusions. We are playing the favourites for the whole competition who form the back-bone of the Ireland team.

"It's going to be tough and a big challenge, but this group of players enjoy these occasions."

Belfast Telegraph

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