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John Barclay wary of jet-lag ahead of Scotland's tour of Japan

John Barclay admits Scotland's biggest challenge during their Japanese tour will be staying awake.

The Scots will make the long-haul trip to the Far East on Saturday ahead of their Test double header with the Brave Blossoms.

The clashes could yet prove crucial to the Dark Blues' 2019 World Cup ambitions, with Japan - who are staging the tournament - just one place behind Vern Cotter's men in World Rugby's rankings, which will be used to calculate the seeding system ahead of next May's pool draw.

But flanker Barclay's most pressing concern is ensuring his side do not sleepwalk into the head-to-heads with jet-lag troubles.

The Scarlets forward, speaking ahead of the 14-hour flight to Tokyo this weekend, said: "We have got a schedule of how much sleep we are allowed. We will see who follows that.

"I have got a three-year-old and a six-week-old boy at home, so a bit of rest and catching up with some sleep would go down well.

"We get looked after really well and are lucky enough to fly business-class, so we get to walk around and have a bit of a chat during the flight. There are a couple of guys who are a bit of a nuisance, though.

"But we have already started going to bed a bit earlier, and waking up a bit earlier - at least I think that's the plan. Then when we get over there it is a case of trying to stay awake for as long as possible."

Once the Scots touch down, they will have just five days to re-set their body clocks before facing a side who shocked the globe when they beat South Africa at last year's World Cup.

"It will be pretty full-on," admitted Barclay. "England and Wales went over to Australia and New Zealand a week early.

"We don't have that luxury but sometimes getting straight into training and going for a run is the best way of getting it out of your system."

For most of Cotter's squad, venturing to the Land of the Rising Sun will be a fresh adventure.

But Barclay - born in Hong Kong, where his father worked in the petrochemical industry - is no stranger to Japan and is looking forward to his return trip.

"I've been to Japan twice before, but both times for school tournaments when I was younger," the 29-year-old said. "I can't even remember where we went to be honest, it was in the middle of nowhere.

"I grew up in the Far East, in Hong Kong and Malaysia, so I've got a slight grasp of the culture, but I am not too experienced in Japan.

"I am really excited about going. Someone said to me 'you must be dreading going' but I can't wait. I personally love tours. They are great fun. You expose yourself to somewhere totally different ."

The Scots' last meeting with Japan came at England 2015, where they avoided the banana skin which tripped up the Springboks as they claimed a 45-10 win in their tournament opener at Gloucester's Kingsholm Stadium.

Barclay has been impressed by the improvements the Brave Blossoms have made in recent years and expects a tough clash when the team meet, firstly on June 18 in Toyota City before the second leg a week later in Tokyo.

He said: "Rugby is really taking off there and the success they had at the last World Cup accelerated that even more. I am sure there will be big crowds.

"They are a place below us in the world rankings so I am sure they will have a target on our heads and want to turn us over.

"If you beat South Africa, no matter when or how you play them, you are a pretty good team."


From Belfast Telegraph