Captain John Barclay insists Scotland now have the “world-class players” needed to go into clashes with the Southern Hemisphere giants and believe they can win.
The Scots round off their autumn series against Australia at BT Murrayfield this afternoon hoping to finish with a positive record after a 44-38 win over Samoa and stirring 22-17 loss to world champions New Zealand. The Wallabies racked up a 16-game winning streak against Scotland between 1982 and 2009 but the six games since have been shared with three victories apiece. Barclay has an impressive three-out-of-four personal record against the gold and greens having played in the 9-8 win at Murrayfield eight years ago, the 9-6 triumph in Newcastle, New South Wales, in 2012 and this summer’s 24-19 success in Sydney.
The only time he has lost to the Aussies was last autumn’s 23-22 thriller.
Following a strong showing against the All Blacks last weekend, Barclay was asked if Scotland now approach these matches with less fear. “I don’t think there was ever fear,” he replied. “But I don’t know if we had the ability, going back a number of years. I think we have the world-class players now to compete.”
Scotland have been forced into a change with centre Alex Dunbar failing to come through the concussion return-to-play protocols and replaced by Glasgow team-mate Peter Horne. Edinburgh’s Phil Burleigh comes on to the bench, poised for a first cap.
Hopes are high that Scotland can end the year on a high with a seventh Test win of 2017 and Barclay said: “We know that if we play well then we can compete against the best teams in the world and put ourselves in positions to win games. We played the best team for the past ten, 15 years last weekend and it came down to the last play of the game. That’s very encouraging.”