Barclay set for back-row battle
June 11, 2010
John Barclay has the Pumas in his sights © Getty Images
Scotland flanker John Barclay has called on his team-mates to stand up to Argentina's powerful back-row when the sides go head-to-head in Tucuman on Saturday.
Barclay, one third of Scotland's ruthlessly effective 'Killer Bs' back-row, will have a scrap on his hands as Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe looks to cause further damage to the tourists after inspiring a 9-6 Murrayfield victory last November. Toulon pivot Felipe Contepomi is the other key player on Scotland's radar, having returned to lead the Pumas.
"I think Argentina have a powerful back row," he said. "[Juan Manuel] Leguizamon and [Juan Martin] Fernandez Lobbe are very strong players, Contepomi as well. Honestly, Contepomi can be one of the best fly-halves in the world. We have to watch out for these guys and try to tackle them.
"Our level has ups and downs during this year. We have some very good wins against Australia and Ireland, but sometimes we have also played poorly. We are aware of the difficulty of playing Test match rugby and in order to beat Argentina we have to play at a consistently high level.
"Our mind is set on winning these two games, which are not friendlies or warm-up clashes. For us, they are very crucial as we are facing the end of the season. Playing against Argentina is very important for us for two reasons, it's another big test for us at international level and we can also analyse our form after a whole year with some good and bad experiences."
Barclay toured Argentina in 2008, when Scotland halved a series with the Pumas after fighting back to win the second Test.
"In 2008 in the first Test we were very close [to winning], but we improved in the contact area and improved our shape and secured a good win in the second match," he said. "There are a lot of different players now who have the Six Nations behind them and have beaten Ireland. We know how hard is to face these kind of Test matches, but we also know it's worth all the effort when we clinch good results.
"We are very excited about these Tests. I think there are no reasons to think that we cannot go well in both games."
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton