JOHN BARCLAY will miss the start of next season with new club Edinburgh, and is unlikely to be fit in time for Scotland’s 2018 Autumn Test schedule, due to a ruptured Achilles Tendon injury sustained whilst playing for current club the Scarlets in Friday night’s pro14 play-off semi-final clash against Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun.
The Scotland captain hobbled off the field during the first half of his team’s comprehensive victory over the Warriors and the injury required surgery. He is now expected to be out of action for “at least six months”.
The 31-year-old back-rower will travel to Edinburgh this week to begin rehabilitation on the injury, and Richard Cockerill, his new head coach, is hopeful that player can still be a positive influence within the squad during the months ahead despite being unable to play.
“It’s naturally disappointing to lose one of our key summer signings through injury but I’m more disappointed for the player as I know how much he was looking forward to getting stuck into pre-season,” said Cockerill. “We’re still looking forward to welcoming a man of John’s calibre into the group this summer where I know he will help build on the culture and environment that we established last season.”
Barclay’s unavailability for the first few months of next season is a set-back but shouldn’t be a devastating blow to Edinburgh’s chances of continuing the progress they have made during the campaign just finished.
Cornell du Preez and John Hardie are both moving on this summer, but Cockerill can still call upon Hamish Watson, Viliame Mata, Jamie Ritchie, Magnus Bradbury, Luke Crosbie, Lewis Carmichael and Ally Miller to populate his back-row.
It had already been announced that Barclay would be rested during the summer when Scotland tour the Americas.
Scarlets criticise Scotstoun playing surface
Meanwhile, the Scarlets have made it clear that they are unhappy with the artificial playing surface they encountered on Friday night, after apparently being forced to cancel training due to players nursing burns and blisters.
“There are a lot of bad burns,” said the Welsh club’s head coach Wayne Pivac. “No one trained yesterday [Monday] in terms of any rugby work on the field and there will be some who won’t train today which is unfortunate, but we will have a full training session on Thursday.
“It was very bad on the weekend,” responded Pivac when asked for his thoughts on the Scotstoun pitch. “It was very dry. It is what it is, you have got to play on them and you have got to accept it, but I am not a fan.”
“It’s things that won’t stop them playing, but it’s not ideal.”
Scarlets full-back Johnny McNicholl went further.
“I have got a dozen of them [burns]. It has not been a couple of nice nights sticking to the sheets. It is not a nice pitch to play on. Under foot it is good when you are doing footwork. As soon as you hit the deck it affects your joints as well. I remember going down for the ball and I got this massive grass burn on my backside,” he said.
“It was like a carpet burn. I said to the trainer straight after, with a few swear words, that I felt this pitch should be illegal.”
Scarlets and Wales winger Steffan Evans added that the Scotstoun surface seems more punishing than those he has encountered at places such as Cardiff Blues.
“It is a tough field that 4G,” he said. “It was just really dry. It wasn’t soft, it was a hard ground. “The weather didn’t help, it was like playing on carpet, it was shocking. You are waking up in bed and the sheets are stuck to your leg about seven times a night.”
Glasgow Warriors responded by pointing out that the recently laid pitch complied with all regulations.
“Glasgow Warriors are entirely happy with the Scotstoun Stadium pitch, which was only installed in 2016 and is fully compliant with World Rugby’s performance specification,” said a statement issued by the club.