KOBE (Reuters) - John Barclay remembers the loneliness of the captaincy, the endless search for answers after a heavy defeat, and while the Scotland flanker no longer wears the mantle, his experience is helping lift the side after their World Cup loss to Ireland.
The Scots were bullied from start to finish in their Pool A opener, a performance that dispelled the feel-good factor around Gregor Townsend’s side and placed a huge question mark over their quarter-final hopes in Japan.
Yet while that 27-3 defeat in Yokohama on Sunday dented their pride and prompted a wave of criticism from fans back home, Barclay said the players cannot hide their heads in shame.
With three more games to play, the first against Samoa in Kobe on Monday, and qualification still within their grasp, Scotland have had to move on.
“Especially after a bad game, the worst thing to do is to sit in your hotel room and cry,” back-rower Barclay told reporters on Friday.
“You can over-analyse everything and try to find solutions but probably what’s more important is that we prepare right for this week rather than keep looking back.”
Barclay said that a leadership group within the squad was helping current skipper Stuart McInally lift spirits.
“In my experience of being captain it can be quite lonely sometimes,” he added.
“Especially when you talk during the week about what you’re going to do and then if you have a bad game you feel hypocritical.
“You analyse yourself and think, ‘How can I say these things and then perform like that?’”
Samoa sit top of the group after their opening 34-9 win over Russia and Barclay said that while Scotland would tweak things from the Ireland game they would not make sweeping changes to the way they play.
“They’ve got some big physical guys, they probably don’t have the most structure in the way they play but they rely on a lot of individual excellence and physicality,” he said.
“Our philosophy in terms of how we play the game is in our DNA. We just have to look at things we can do better.”
Editing by Toby Davis