Scotland v Samoa: Time for moping is over, insists John Barclay
Elder statesman John Barclay believes getting out of the squad hotel and experiencing a small amount of the beautiful city of Kobe they are now based in has helped blow off the cobwebs of that depressing Sunday evening in Yokohama against Ireland.
The back-rower and former captain insists that bringing a bit of enjoyment back is not a sign that the players are shrugging off what happened at the weekend but a necessary part of building the right vibe heading into Monday’s crucial second Pool A match against Samoa.
“I've heard some people say it looks like we don't care, which couldn't be further from the truth,” said the man who won his 75th cap in that 27-3 loss to the Irish.
“That hurts players and we take that on board but we have tried to have fun.
“We're not going to sit in our hotel rooms and cry for a week. We can't do that so we've been out exploring. We're here at a World Cup, it's a great opportunity and we've got another opportunity on Monday against Samoa.”
There did seem to be a more relaxed and positive atmosphere at today’s press conference and asked if the players have now moved on from Ireland, Barclay replied: “I have, I can only answer for myself. The aftermath wasn't very nice for various reasons.
“But we've moved on. We've got other games to play so we have moved on. The first couple of days were pretty crap. You analyse it, over analyse it and go over it and over it again.
“It's something we don't take lightly.”
The review process has given Barclay a fresh outlook on what went wrong in Yokohama.
“When you look back at the game a lot of it was our own errors,” said the 33-year-old.
“There's been a lot made of the lack of energy but the way we played didn't allow us to have energy. It could have looked like we didn't have energy if people were missing tackles and the ball was getting hacked down field. That's not the same as turning up without energy for me.
“We've looked at how we best perform and things in our play that can help us. There's been a few changes to the way we play and to personnel.”
Asked specifically what had been the main takeaways from the unpleasant task of poring over the Ireland footage, Barclay said: “It just revealed we didn't do what we said we were going to do. When we don't stick to our systems in attack and defence, that's when we look like we don't have energy because you are asking someone to cover all the space and they can't.
"For example when someone should have followed someone in defence and they don't, then someone runs through a hole, it can look like a missed tackle but it's our mistake so if we step out of our system in attack, most of it was our own undoing.
“For whatever reason it happened, it certainly wasn't a sort of complacency. I don't think I've ever played in a Scotland team that's been complacent, that's not where we can be as a nation.
“It was just one of those of days where we didn't perform very well.”
Barclay has only faced Samoa twice in his long career, in 2010 and 2017, but knows what to expect on Monday.
“I don't like to speak to much about stereotypes but I think with the South Sea Islanders you can do that to a certain extent,” he said.
“They have some big physical guys. They probably don't have the most structure with the way they play but they rely on a lot of individual accidents and physicality.
“We've not looked at what they do too much yet. We've focused more on how we fix ourselves.
“The sad thing is we've done it before. it's frustrating. We played France away [in Nice, a 32-3 loss= the first game of the season, didn't play very well, and then next week we played well [and won 17-14 at BT Murrayfield]. It can be done.”
Asked if the fact it has happened so many times before means another sloppy start could easily be thrown in again on Monday, Barclays said: “I don't think it will happen again, certainly won't happen this week.
“You can over-analyse everything, try to find solutions, probably what's more important is we prepare right for this week and get it right this week rather than keep looking back.”