John Barclay: Scotland taking no notice of Eddie Jones ‘games’

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Scotland skipper John Barclay insists he is not falling for Eddie Jones’ Mr Nice Guy routine.

The outspoken England head coach ditched his usual mind games this week as he opted for a more diplomatic approach in the build-up to Saturday’s NatWest 6 Nations showdown with the Scots at BT Murrayfield.

A fortnight after questioning Wales’ Rhys Patchell’s “bottle” for the big occasion, the Australian has taken a different tack when discussing Dark Blues playmaker Finn Russell.

His charm offensive included dubbing the Glasgow stand-off a “world-class” operator while he even compared the style of Gregor Townsend’s team to the All Blacks’.

But those warm words do not wash with Barclay.

“Eddie loves to play these games and the media love it too,” said the Scotland captain. “It gives an interesting approach to you guys and I think it’s great for the game.

“It gives different headlines and people love reading it.

“But to be honest we don’t take much notice. I don’t even think there are newspapers in our hotel.

RUGBYU England
Six Nations 2018: Scotland v England head-to-head preview (PA Graphics)

Instead, Barclay is concentrating on ensuring the Scots do not allow the kind of mistakes that sent them crashing in their tournament opener against Wales earlier this month.

Townsend’s team have bounced back from that Cardiff calamity by beating France but even then Scotland had to respond after twice handing Les Bleus the advantage.

But Barclay admits it is unlikely his side will be given second chances by a line-up that has won 24 Tests out of 25 under Jones.

“England are one of the best teams in the world, their record is fantastic,” said the Scarlets flanker. “They come here as massive favourites, in my opinion.

“They are a quality side with quality players, British Lions throughout – it’s a big challenge for us to stop them.”

The size of the task facing Scotland is underlined by the fact a Wales team who thumped Barclay’s men by 27 points then found themselves outmuscled by the English a fortnight ago despite coughing up just two penalty infringements.

Barclay knows victory this weekend – and the Scots’ first since 2008 – would rank as a major surprise but reckons it could fire his team into title contention.

He said: “I went back to Scarlets on our week off and just had a little chat with some of the Wales guys who faced them last week.

“Wales gave away two penalties in the whole game – I don’t know if that’s ever been done before, that disciplined.

“They had a very clear strategy, a few calls here or there and the game could have gone the other way. I thought they played very well.

“I said after the first weekend that one game does not make you a terrible team just as one win doesn’t make you the best team in the world.

“It was important for us to win against France just to get some points on the board and we did that.

“To win here again this weekend and get more points on the board would put us in a great position.

“But we’re under no illusions about how good a team England are and the challenge that lies ahead.”

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