John Barclay finds it hard to believe he is being lined up to potentially captain Scotland at the 2019 World Cup four years after suffering the worst blow of his long rugby career – exclusion from the squad for the 2015 finals in England.
The veteran flanker, who was at Scarlets at the time, believed he was set to be included having been recalled to the squad by then national team coach Vern Cotter.
However, he was the omitted, a crashing disappointment only added to when he was snubbed to come in as an injury call-up during the finals.
“I had not been involved for three years so I did think that if I wasn’t picked there I was just going to be turning around,” said Barclay to Scottish media the end of the opening training week of Scotland’s preparations for the latest finals in Japan.
“I wasn’t trying to be a martyr or anything like that. I’ve said openly it was the single biggest disappointment of my career to not go – to put in all the work and not get picked. Someone then got injured, and I still didn’t get picked,” he added, looking back on the situation where Blair Cowan was brought in to replaced the injured Grant Gilchrist.
— THE OFFSIDE LINE (@theoffsideline) June 20, 2019
“I didn’t really enjoy, or watch, that World Cup. I found it really frustrating individually,” continued the 32-year-old, who had scored in Scotland’s final warm-up match for 2015 before learning he would not be making the cut.
“That added to the frustration, but equally I was always aware I didn’t want to be petulant. Throughout the time I wasn’t picked I didn’t throw the toys out, I just kept my head down. Six months later I was back for the Six Nations and another 12 months later I was captain.
“It’s something I actually speak to younger guys about, just how quickly cycles change. One minute you are flavour of the month, the next minute you are not. It’s just about taking a step back and actually looking at the situation, and realising things change very fast.”
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