Barclay heading home early

PA Sport
John Barclay recovered from a stomach bug to play for an hour of the Fiji game
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John Barclay recovered from a stomach bug to play for an hour of the Fiji game

After shrugging off a stomach infection in the week before Scotland's win over Fiji to play almost an hour of the game in the searing heat, back row John Barclay has been allowed to head home from the national team's tour before the final game.

Head coach Andy Robinson said the decision to release Barclay, who is getting married in just under a fortnight, had been made before the tour started. He said Stuart McInally, the Edinburgh number 8, was to join the party after the Australia game. In the event he joined a few days early when there were injury worries after Barclay hurt his hand in training.

"He has got his wedding a week on Saturday and we have always said that we were prepared to release him after two games," Robinson said. "There are two reasons for this. One is the difficulty of travel from Samoa and the other is the risk of injury. Obviously, we have got plenty of back-row cover."

Despite being a specialist openside, Barclay has been mainly operating at number eight, so McInally is a like-for-like replacement, though it is far more likely that Richie Vernon, the Sale back row, is going to be given the first chance to grab the place that Barclay is vacating.

In fact it seems to have been an incredible feat of determination from Barclay to have played at all against Fiji, with the bug laying him low all through the week so that he could hardly eat.

The fact that despite his illness and the heat, he still played for almost an hour demonstrates why Robinson is so determined to find a way to fit him into the team, even out of position.

The game against Fiji left the Scots with a number of bumps and bruises but only Euan Murray, the tighthead prop, who came off with a twisted knee is causing any serious concern that he might be in danger of missing the match against Samoa on Saturday.

"Injury wise we have got shoulder bruising to Al Kellock [the lock], Max Evans [the wing] and Ryan Grant [the prop]. Euan Murray has twisted his knee and Al Strokosch [the flanker] has a calf irritation," Robinson said.

"All in all, we seem to have shaped up pretty well. We have got to wait and see on Euan [Murray], but we have got cover in his position. Geoff Cross did well when he came off the bench and there is more cover in Moray Low. We do expect Ryan [Grant] to be fit."

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