08 Mar Barclay | They are all big games and this is the next one
Stand-in Scotland captain John Barclay insists the hype surrounding this Saturday’s clash with England does not add any weight of expectation to the RBS 6 nations encounter at Twickenham.
The Scots are seeking a first win in south-west London since 1983 and a first Triple Crown since 1990, while England aim to equal New Zealand’s record of 18-straight Test wins for a tier-one nation and are two wins away from back-to-back Grand Slams.
Scotland have won two of their first three RBS 6 Nations games for the first time since 2006, their home victories over Ireland and Wales placing them a threatening third in the table going into the penultimate round and a highest-ever placing of 5th in the World Rugby Rankings.
“They are all big games and this is the next one. That is maybe a slightly boring response but that’s the reality of it”, said the Scarlets loose forward.
“The fact is, we’re playing a Six Nations which is five games long and we’re on game four.
“You don’t look at the following week, you look at England – they are too good a side to look any further.”
Barclay will captain the Scots for the second match in succession after scrum-half Greig Laidlaw was ruled out of the tournament against France in Paris, while back-row forwards Josh Strauss and John Hardie have also joined Alasdair Dickinson and WP Nel on the list of notable absentees.
Scotland Resource Coach Nathan Hines – who won two Calcutta Cups in 2006 and 2008 – says a number of emerging players have already showcased their test credentials.
He said: Before the autumn internationals, we thought we couldn’t do without our front-line props [Dickinson and Nel]. We had to make changes, we’ve evolved and become better.
“It’s just another thing we have to adapt to. Greig not being there is a loss, but it gives the opportunity for other leaders to step up.
“The group have done really well to adapt to other factors that wouldn’t necessarily have been ideal and we’re happy with that.”