Barclay ready to punish France
Barclay is "slightly fed up" with how the Six Nations has gone
Last Updated: 23/02/12 5:33pm
John Barclay: Feeling fed up
Flanker John Barclay wants to take several weeks of frustration out on France when they clash in the Six Nations at Murrayfield on Sunday.
The Glasgow Warriors forward has found himself on the replacements' bench for the opening two matches of the championship, as Scotland put in dominant displays against England and Wales, only to fall to defeat.
Barclay is set to be restored to the starting line-up for Sunday's match with the World Cup runners-up, albeit in a less than familiar blindside role, with Ross Rennie continuing at openside.
Barclay, who is poised to win his 35th cap, said: "It's been a frustrating few weeks personally and for the team.
"There are a lot of frustrated and annoyed guys kicking around, slightly fed up with how things have gone.
"That's the nature of the championship - you have to dust yourself off and get on with it. We've got a big game against the French and there's no point dwelling on what could have been in the weeks gone by.
"We're not far away and that's what makes it so frustrating in the last few weeks."
Familiar failings contributed to Scotland's losses to England and Wales and Andy Robinson's men are seeking to avoid an extension of their four-match losing streak with just a second win over France in Six Nations competition.
Barclay's chance has come after Gloucester's Alasdair Strokosch suffered a fractured hand in Cardiff and despite being in the unfamiliar number six jersey, the 25-year-old expects to play in his usual manner against Les Bleus.
Barclay added: "I'd never been on the bench before. It was a new experience and I obviously want to start, but I enjoyed being able to come on and make an impact.
"I've been happy with my involvement when I've come off the bench so to get the opportunity is great for me.
"I'm not going to change the way I play the game. It's slightly different at the set-piece and things like that, but from my point of view it will be a pretty similar player you'll see."
The role of Barclay - thought of as a future Scotland captain - will be crucial.
Scotland's expansive style is about keeping possession and multiple phases of play, with Barclay assigned to secure ball for his team and to slow down opposition ball.
Barclay was impressed with Scotland's showing against Wales.
He added: "Playing at speed and playing at tempo is important. Against Wales we played at a tempo that, looking on as a sub, I've never seen a Scotland team impose itself like that.
"I genuinely thought we were going to walk in for a try and we knocked on at the end of the first half.
"Playing at tempo and multi-phase rugby is what we have to aspire to do."
Robinson called for his pack to build on their impressive showings to date against a France side which pummelled them into submission in Paris 12 months ago.
Barclay added: "As a pack we're performing very well. There's always room for improvement in little areas but especially coming up against the French pack.
"Last year they absolutely destroyed us in the scrum and that's something they will look to target, I'm sure.
"It's probably the biggest challenge to date for this pack."
Crucial to the performance of Scotland's forwards is Richie Gray.
A team-mate of Barclay's at Glasgow, Gray has rediscovered his best form in the tournament.
The 6ft 9in, 19st 12lb second row made his debut against Les Bleus as a replacement in 2010 and his rampaging display in Paris was the major positive from the 2011 loss at the Stade de France.
Gray, though, is always striving to improve.
The 22-year-old said: "Although there are nice memories, we as a team would like to prove a point this weekend and get a win.
"We've been playing so well but just not getting the wins. I believe it's the final one percent and a complete 80-minute performance. It's close."
Gray, tipped by many to tour Australia with the British and Irish Lions in 2013, anticipates a fierce confrontation up front.
He added: "It's a massive test. They're one of the top line-out teams, one of the top scrummaging teams. They challenge you all around the park.
France have a formidable pack and a really dangerous back-line, and also World Cup finalists.
"In the northern hemisphere there's no bigger challenge."