Wales won't have Scarlet fever says Barclay

Fri, 02 Feb 2018 18:39

SIX NATIONS SPOTLIGHT: Wales' team is dominated with Scarlets players, but that doesn't mean head coach Warren Gatland will change his style of play. 

That is what Scotland captain John Barclay believes. According to Barclay, Gatland will play a conservative style for their Six Nations opener on Saturday.

The Scarlets have impressed with the expansive play which has earned them a place in the European Champions Cup quarterfinals and Gatland has picked 10 members of that team.

Wales are without a swathe of injured players, including British and Irish Lions skipper Sam Warburton and centre Jonathan Davies, and some see the Scots as dark horses to win their first ever Six Nations title, but the home team can take heart from the fact their opponents have not won in Cardiff since 2002.

Barclay, who has assumed the captaincy from Greig Laidlaw, said at his eve-of-match press conference that he doubted Gatland would change a formula of play that has served him well in 10 years as Wales coach.   

"They're two different teams and Warren Gatland obviously has his way of playing," said Barclay.

"So, I'd be surprised if they suddenly tore up his way of playing and adopted a totally different style.

"We play a certain way at Scarlets that suits the players we have - but I don't know if it can be merged [into Wales' gameplan]. It's a totally different team.

"They have got 10 guys who play for Scarlets but also five guys who don't.

"It's taken a long time for Scarlets to play that brand of rugby. I don't know if it can be created in a week for the other guys and I don't think they will try to."

Barclay, who impressed in Scotland's superb November Test series when they went they went close to an historic win over world champions New Zealand, and then thumped 14-man Australia, said the size of the task facing his team was illustrated by last year's Six Nations.  

"Look, winning away from home is hard," said the 31-year-old Hong Kong-born flank.

"Someone said to me at the Six Nations launch that, apart from the games against Italy, only England won an away game in last year's tournament with that last-minute try in Wales.

"So that gives you an indication of how hard it is."

His Wales counterpart Alun Wyn Jones says he doesn't mind if people view his side as underdogs after losing to Scotland at Murrayfield last season.

"On the back of last year, I think that would be fair," said Jones.

"But I think sometimes it's better to be the hunter rather than the hunted.

"If we are the underdogs, then we will take that tag, but it's about the 80 minutes.

"We are very conscious of the brand of rugby they are playing at the minute, and their evolution over the last 18 months.

"They have a bag of tricks that I am sure they may dip into at some point of the game as well," added the 32-year-old, who is Wales's most capped lock and will be winning his 114th cap.

Agence France-Presse

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