John Barclay column: We must restore pride after harsh lesson

Scotland flanker John Barclay previews his side's RBS 6 Nations clash with Wales in his exclusive Sportsmail column...

It's been a tough couple of weeks for everyone following the defeat to Wales. The players have all, to a man, put their hands up and accepted responsibility for such a poor performance. We know we let down not just ourselves but the coaching team and the fans. We're all determined not to let that happen again.

I can certainly guarantee there will be a positive reaction against Ireland. Andy Robinson wants us to restore pride to the nation by playing well and that's what we're setting out to do.

Sorry sight: Scotland's Alastair Kellock, Nick de Luca , Moray Low and John Barclay react after defeat by Wales

Sorry sight: Scotland's Alastair Kellock, Nick de Luca , Moray Low and John Barclay react after defeat by Wales

The defeat was one of the low points of my Scotland career. The positive, I think, is that we learned some harsh lessons. For instance, we allowed Wales to race into a 16-0 lead after just 23 minutes. We can't afford to do that against the Irish, or any team for that matter.

There were a lot of home truths spoken afterwards, not just by Sean Lamont who made an emotional public outburst. Sean was only expressing what the players were thinking. We were all furious, frustrated and hurting at the way we let the game slip away from us.

I didn't play for Glasgow Warriors in the week after the Wales game. That gave me more time for reflection and to try to get it out of my system. It was only last Monday, when we met up again as a squad at Murrayfield, that we discussed the match among the players at any great length.

Opinions expressed in the team room were diverse - and many of the boys spelled out just how important it was for them to represent their country. We had a frank exchange of views, then we parked the Wales game and moved on to preparing for the Irish.

I, for one, am desperate for a win because I had gone into the Six Nations with very high hopes. To have two defeats in a row is something I did not expect.

No way through: Barclay is tackled by Wales' Bradley Davies

No way through: Barclay is tackled by Wales' Bradley Davies

Of course, we beat the Irish last year and remembering that game helped lift the gloom. We had gone into last year's match after drawing with England but, the minute we set foot on Irish soil, it seemed that result had been forgotten and the Irish didn't give us a chance.

All the talk was that Ireland were going to beat us and win the Triple Crown in what would be their last match at Croke Park before they moved back to the Aviva Stadium. It was as if we were just guests at their party. To a competitive sportsman, that's like a red rag to a bull.

Things obviously didn't turn out the way Ireland planned. Johnnie Beattie scored a great try and Dan Parks kicked all our other points - including that incredible lastminute penalty from the touchline to win us the game.

Ruaridh Jackson will be wearing the No 10 jersey this time round and I have every confidence he'll do well. Dan will be hurting about being on the bench, as anyone would be, but you'd never know it such is his professionalism.

He's been his usual self all week and is a vital part of the squad, both on and off the field.

You can rest assured that we are completely focused on beating Ireland. We know we have to win to restore some pride and I'm confident we won't let anybody down this time.

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