John Barclay will use Australia’s thumping win over Wales as a cautionary tale as he and his Scotland team-mates bid to avoid being caught cold by the Wallabies at BT Murrayfield.
The Scarlets flanker admits he was surprised by the emphatic nature of Australia’s 32-8 victory over Wales in Cardiff last weekend.
The tourists had come off the back of their Rugby Championship programme, which involved six games against New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina since August, and Wales found it difficult to cope with the pace and fluidity of their play.
“Obviously I play with a lot of the Welsh boys and I spoke to a couple of them in the week leading up to it and they were feeling good about things,” said Barclay. Sometimes you have those days but the manner of the defeat would probably be the most disappointing thing for them.
“You could maybe tell Australia had played a lot recently and Wales hadn’t played together as a unit but that’s something we have to learn from. It’s important we don’t fall into that trap as well.”
The Llanelli-based forward did not delve too deeply into his Welsh colleagues’ pain but will aim to learn from it.
“I exchanged a few text messages here and there,” the former Glasgow player said. “They were bitterly disappointed so you don’t want to pry too deep. But you can see a lot from the video where they went wrong.
“One of the main differences is the speed everything happens at. They were trying to get forward and Wales have had a great defence in recent years. But Australia played a lot of options inside and outside, it’s obviously something they looked at before the game and it all came off for them.
“Certainly they want to play fast ball, they want to play with the ball in front of them, moving the ball. Every team’s goal in defence is to slow it down, if not turn it over, so nothing changes there really.”
But the 30-year-old added: “They attack slightly differently, they have a lot of trail plays, a lot of movement, a lot of multiple-option plays, where defenders around the ball have all got to be doing the right job, not just the guy in front of the ball.
“So, yeah, they present a unique challenge, but I believe defence is relatively straightforward. But the speed of how it happens in international rugby, you don’t have the recovery time that you maybe do in a pro rugby game.”
While Saturday’s autumn Test opener for Scotland gives many players a chance to avenge last year’s controversial World Cup quarter-final loss, Barclay boasts a record of two wins in two meetings with Australia and just appreciates the opportunity to play for his country in a big game after two years where he barely got a look-in before this year’s RBS 6 Nations.
“I kept my head down for a couple of years and got my chance to come back in,” he said. “It does make you more hungry to get back in and stay there. When you play in Scotland you are in and around the coaches and the environment more than you are out of the country.
“For me personally to come up is a big change to come up from my club. I just enjoy coming up. There’s a few young guys coming through and it’s great coming into a squad that is trying to go in the right direction.”
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A Wallabies warning to Scotland
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