John Barclay: Scotland have nothing to prove
The captain insists Scotland are better than the team that turned up in Cardiff.
Scotland skipper John Barclay admits his side have a point to prove against France – but only to themselves.
The Dark Blues suffered an opening-day disappointment against Wales as the wheels came off early in Cardiff.
That 34-7 defeat to Warren Gatland’s men has deflated some of the optimism surrounding the Scots ahead of the NatWest 6 Nations after a hugely encouraging autumn series.
And it has also sparked some fierce criticism, with former England centre Jeremy Guscott branding their showing at the Principality Stadium “clueless”.
Barclay, though, is convinced last week’s result is not a true reflection of where Gregor Townsend’s team currently stand.
However, settling scores with their detractors is not his first priority ahead of Les Bleus’ visit to Murrayfield on Sunday.
The Scotland squad are at BT Murrayfield this morning for their last training session of the week. We'll hear from captain John Barclay as he leaves the field on the eve of our round two Test v France #AsOne pic.twitter.com/lDOJSoEdGD— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) February 10, 2018
The captain said: “The criticism doesn’t anger me personally. We’re not going out to prove anyone wrong – definitely not.
“I think we’re just disappointed with the performance and want to prove to ourselves more than anybody that last week’s performance was a one off.
“We were just massively frustrated with the quality of our performance last week so for us it’s just about us going out there and showing that doesn’t represent what we’re about as a team.”
Scotland had been tipped as a dark horse for the championship title on the back of their November displays – they ran New Zealand close and ripped Australia apart by record margins.
But Barclay admits it was those clashes which made the manner of last week’s let down all the more painful.
“We didn’t see it coming,” admitted the Scarlets flanker. “We expected a much better performance. There was no indicators in the build-up.
“We’ve got to learn, it’s a different competition. It’s a slightly different kind of rugby when you get into Six Nations. We’re just trying to get on with it.
“We know we haven’t become a terrible team overnight, just as we hadn’t become the best team in the world off the back of the autumn. There is still a lot of belief in the team but we have to go out and put in a performance.”
The challenge now for Barclay and his team-mates will not be any easier as they look to bounce back against the French.
Jacques Brunel saw his first championship clash in charge end in narrow defeat to Ireland last week and Barclay says his side must now stand up to the test against their muscle-bound opponents.
“France will be very physical and their defence is very good,” he said. “The weather wasn’t the best over in Paris last week so it is hard to take as much from their result with Ireland than had there been dry ball.
“While they have some dangerous runners, they are under new guidance so you’re not too sure how much to take from the first game.
“They do though have some fantastic players and we know how hard a task it will be.”