After shrugging off a stomach infection in the week before Scotland's 37-25 win over Fiji to play almost an hour of the game in the searing heat, back row John Barclay has been allowed to head home from the national team's tour before the final game.
Andy Robinson, the head coach, said yesterday that the decision to release Barclay, who is getting married in just under a fortnight, had been made before the tour started, and that Stuart McInally, the Edinburgh No 8, was always going to join the party after the Australia game – though in the event he joined a few days early when there were injury worries after Barclay hurt his hand in training.
Despite being a specialist openside, Barclay has been mainly operating at No 8, so McInally is a straight like-for-like replacement, though it is far more likely that Richie Vernon, the Sale back row, is going to be given the first chance to grab the place that Barclay is vacating.
"He has got his wedding a week on Saturday and we have always said that we were prepared to release him after two games," Robinson said. "There are two reasons for this. One is the difficulty of travel from Samoa and the other is the risk of injury. Obviously, we have got plenty of back-row cover."
In fact it seems to have been an incredible feat of determination from Barclay to have played at all against Fiji on Saturday, with the bug laying him low all through the week so that he could hardly eat. The fact that he still played for almost an hour demonstrates why Robinson is so keento find a way to fit him into the team.
The game left the Scots with a number of bumps and bruises but only Euan Murray, the tighthead prop, who came off with a twisted knee, is causing any serious concern that he might be in danger of missing the match against Samoa on Saturday.
Fiji: Tries Domolailai, Nayacalevu, Talebula; Conversions Ralulu 2; Penalties Ralulu 2. Scotland: Tries Laidlaw, penalty, Visser 2; Cons Laidlaw 3; Pens Laidlaw 3. Fiji: Koniferedi (Talebula 60); Nayacalevu, Goneva, Buto (Ratuvou, 58), Votu; Ralulu, Matawalu (Kenatale, 66); Yanuyanutawa (Nailago, 58), Veikoso (Talemaitoga 60), Somoca, Naikatini, Nakarawa, Ratuva (Ketedromo, 70), Ravulo (Domo Domolailai, 17), Talei. Scotland: Hogg; Evans (Lamont, 62), De Luca, Scott, Visser; Laidlaw, Blair (Cusiter, 55); Grant, Ford, Murray (Cross, 66), Kellock, Gray, Strokosch, Rennie, Barclay (Vernon. 58). Referee: J Peyper (South Africa)