Barclay itching to make debut against Dragons
JOHN Barclay is champing at the bit in readiness for his much-anticipated Scarlets debut in Newport tomorrow.
The Scotland international flanker has missed the opening two matches of the RaboDirect Pro12 campaign as he completes his recovery from a shoulder operation.
Barclay went under the knife in June and has spent the summer at Parc y Scarlets in rehab.
He visited a specialist in London last week and after being given the all clear is now set to feature for the Scarlets in the first regional ‘derby’ of the season at Rodney Parade.
“It’s been a little frustrating to join a club and then be off with injury but the surgery had to happen and I’m glad to get the go-ahead now,” he said.
“I’m just itching to get out there. In some ways it’s been positive that I’ve had time to bed in slowly and not get rushed in — but on the other hand I just want to get out there and play and not just be stuck in the gym and rehab.”
Barclay was on water-carrying duties as the Scarlets bounced back from their Leinster hammering with a 26-10 victory over Treviso in Llanelli last weekend.
A combative openside with 41 caps for Scotland, the 26-year-old is regarded as one of the leading No. 7s in the Pro12.
The Scarlets have spent the last two seasons operating without a specialist openside in the ranks, with three No. 6s — Aaron Shingler, Rob McCusker and Josh Turnbull — filling the breakaway trio.
Barclay is set to add an extra dimension to that unit, although head coach Simon Easterby has a big selection call to make when the former Glasgow favourite comes into the starting XV.
“We’ve got good competition in the back row,” added Barclay.
“I know how good these players are from playing against them and I think it’s positive that we have a good blend of different types of players
On the Scarlets’ opening performances against Leinster and Treviso, he continued: “We have a young group of players, and some may have questioned what the Scarlets will do this season, but from what I have seen they are a very determined and ambitious group.
“They know their responsibility to this club and all its traditions and you can see how much it means from the way they turned things round after losing out to Leinster.
“It was good to see how they transferred what we had talked about from training onto the field against Treviso, who are a tough, gritty side with plenty of experience and some big scalps in the Pro12.”
Easterby is set to name his side today with British Lion Jonathan Davies poised to make his first start of the campaign.
Davies is likely to come up against highly-rated Wales Under-20s centre Jack Dixon, who has been one of the standout Dragons in the opening weeks of the Pro12.
“Jonathan Davies made a big statement in the summer by keeping Brian O’Driscoll out of the Lions side. I look up to him as a player and can learn a lot from him, but on Friday I’ll give everything against him,” said Dixon.
“I want to push into the Welsh senior squad and I think it’s a realistic aim, but I just have to bide my time, be patient and get my head down.”