SOME of Scotland’s leading players may have felt snubbed by Warren Gatland when he selected his British & Irish Lions tour squad last summer, but Scotland skipper John Barclay reckons that several members of the home team have similar motivation ahead of today’s match in Cardiff.

There was anger in Scottish rugby circles when, after Scotland had comfortably beaten Wales at Murrayfield, Gatland overlooked all bar two Scots – Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour – for that tour of New Zealand, but named 12 Welshmen in his initial tour party.

Barclay dismissed that as being any sort of factor in his team’s thinking as they head to Cardiff, instead suggesting that his clubmates at the Scarlets have more reason to make a point to the Wales head coach who has been forced to make personnel changes due to a string of injuries to those he normally relies upon.

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“I’m not too concerned about the names missing for Wales. I’m more concerned about the guys who are playing. I can’t do anything about the guys not there (and) I know a lot about the guys coming in. I know how good they are,” said the flanker. “They are guys playing with a lot of confidence, a lot of energy. There will be a lot of motivated characters in there who maybe feel they haven’t had the opportunities they have wanted with Wales. They have got them now with the injuries and sometimes that is all you need to get into a set-up.

“A lot of them are coming back in. Someone like Samson (Lee) is coming back in with Thom Francis being picked ahead of him for a while. Aaron Shingler has just got back into the team after years of being overlooked. He will want to stay in the team I am sure. Gareth Davies is back in the team because Webby (Rhys Webb)  has picked up an injury. Patch (Rhys Patchell) knows what is required, Scott Williams was not in the training squad in the autumn and he is starting now.  They are playing quality rugby and deserve to be there. They are motivated and confident. ”

He does not believe that Scotland will find themselves up against a Scarlets-oriented game, however.

“They are two different teams and Warren Gatland obviously has his way of playing, so I’d be surprised if they suddenly tore up his way of playing and adopted a totally different style. The way Warren and his team have coached has been very successful,” he observed. “Maybe they will bring in elements of the way Scarlets play because of the numbers they have or maybe it will happen naturally on the pitch because of the combinations the guys are so used to from week in, week out at club level.

“We play a certain way at Scarlets that suits the players we have. The coaches decided this is the way we will play, but it’s also been the way rugby has been played in west Wales, it’s the way the people of Llanelli want their rugby played. When I first went there we weren’t playing that style and you could tell the frustration of the crowd. Thankfully we have the coaches, the players and the squad to do that now, but I don’t know if it can be merged (into Wales’ gameplan). 

“It’s a totally different team. They have got 10 guys who play for Scarlets but also five guys who don’t. It’s taken a long time for Scarlets to play that brand of rugby. I don’t know if it can be created in a week for the other guys and I don’t think they will try to.”

Acknowledging that the Welsh rugby community had what was, on the basis of results and overall performances, a low opinion of Scottish rugby until relatively recently, he is also aware that there is a determination among the home team’s players to prove that last season’s match which brought Scotland’s first win in the fixture, home or away, for a decade, was no more than a blip.

“They will be hugely motivated off the back of last year,” said Barclay. “They are always very physical and very tricky at home. We’ve not won down there for 16 years so that paints its own picture. We know what to expect and how hard it will be, but we’re really excited.”

In saying so he sought to put his team’s prospects in context, Scotland having won just two away games against their traditional Five Nations rivals, since the championship became a  six team competition in Millennium year. 

“Look winning away from home is hard,” he said. 

“Someone said to me at the Six Nations launch that apart from the games against Italy, only England won an away game in last year’s tournament with that last-minute try in Wales, so that gives you an indication of how hard it is.”