DUNCAN WEIR insists that he has no idea whether he is going to start in the No. 10 jersey for Scotland in this coming Saturday’s Nations Cup opener against Italy in Florence, but Gregor Townsend gave a pretty good indication of his thoughts on the matter last week when discussing the double-blow of losing both Finn Russell and Adam Hastings to injury. 

“Duncy is playing the best rugby of his career,” said the national team’s head coach. “I have worked with him for a long time and it has been really encouraging to see how well he has played pre-and post-lockdown. There is a calmness about the way he plays. 

“The way they play at Worcester is not dissimilar to what we want to do moving the ball. He has really improved in that area and he still has that very good all-round kicking ability. He will work hard and defend well so this could be a big opportunity for him with those two injuries. I'm sure he will be doing all he can to grab it.” 

Rugby players are a superstitious bunch, and having not started a game for Scotland in over four and a half years, it is understandable that Weir is keen to avoid counting his chickens before they hatch – but if he does get the nod when the team is announced on Wednesday morning then his objective will be to make sure that he enjoys the opportunity, because he believes will provide the foundations for a good performance. 

“I’ve let the reins down a little bit the last couple of seasons and I feel I have played my best rugby on the back of that,” he explains. “I’m just going out there and trying to enjoy myself. I don’t worry about people’s opinion, or dwell on getting selection for Scotland or Worcester, I just go and express myself – and that has been a massive thing.” 

A number of factors have contributed to Weir’s newly found sense of equanimity, such as finding some stability in his club career since joining Worcester Warriors in 2018 and becoming a father. 

“In that first season at Worcester, I felt that I was playing good rugby and that I’d cemented myself in the team,” he explains. “My goal going into each weekend was to enjoy myself and on the back of that I was playing some good stuff. Maybe after a couple of games that was the moment when I realised this approach to playing worked for me, and that enjoying yourself is no bad thing. 

“Fatherhood has definitely helped me not bring rugby back into the house, although I still can’t go to sleep after a match until I’ve watched it back,” he adds. “After that I lock it away and its family-time until I go back into the workplace on a Monday. Maybe it’s stopped me dwelling on things as I did in the past, when that affected my wife because I moped around.” 

Watching Russell’s progress from new kid on the block when the pair played together at Glasgow Warriors between 2012 and 2016, to becoming one of the most highly-rated stand-offs in the world, has also helped Weir’s mind-set. 

“In the early days at Glasgow, when Finn was coming through and eventually pushing me out the [starting] spot, I was always needing things done by the book,” he recalls. “If I made a mistake, I’d probably punish myself a wee bit too much and then I’d look at Finn and he’s almost horizontal at times. It’s a great trait to have and I’ve definitely learned a lot from Finn over the years. Personally, I think he’s one of the best 10s in the world so why wouldn’t you tap into that mindset?”