It’s been over four year since Duncan Weir started a Scotland match (v Ireland in the 2016 Six Nations Championship) but after both Finn Russell and Adam Hastings suffered injuries against Wales, the Cambuslang man is in pole position to be Scotland’s playmaker as they open their Autumn Nations Cup away to Italy, with the squad announcement tomorrow. (Wed 11th Nov)
Having been overlooked in matchday squads during Townsend’s reign – until a two minute cameo against France in this year’s Six Nations – some consider Weir’s style at odds with the expansive game favoured by Townsend, who also moved Weir on from Glasgow Warriors as Russell emerged.
“I’ve got a great relationship with Gregor. He’s always been open and honest with me.
“He’s developed the attacking side of my game over the last few years, and also just understanding the context of the game and making decisions. He was a 10 so he’s very good at explaining what he would do in certain situations.”
After moving from the Warriors in 2016, an injury disrupted two years at Edinburgh – the first of which was combined with playing in a struggling capital side – saw Weir released by Richard Cockerill, and Weir now found himself surplus to requirements at both club and international level, with Adam Hastings having usurped him as Russell’s Scotland stand-in.
Weir moved back to “Warriors”, only this time those of Worcester, in the English Premiership and decided a new approach.
“In that first season at Worcester I felt that I was playing good rugby and that I’d cemented myself in the team. My goal going into each weekend was to enjoy myself, and on the back of that I was playing some good stuff.
“In the early days at Glasgow, I was always needing things done by the book. If I made a mistake I’d probably punish myself a bit too much and then I’d look at Finn and he’s almost horizontal at times. It’s a great trait to have and I’ve definitely learned a lot from Finn. Personally, I think he’s one of the best 10s in the world, so why wouldn’t you tap into that mindset?”
The tapping of Finn’s well has proven profitable. Toony called on Weir for the first time as the Six Nations loomed.
“I’m hugely passionate to play for my country. It’s been a rollercoaster ride the last three years, but I’d do it all again if it meant that I was pulling on the jersey, with my family and friends in the stands again at a sold out BT Murrayfield.”
The omens for his expected return to the starting XV are good. On his last visit to Italy in international colours, when Vern Cotter was at the helm, Weir famously slotted a match-winning drop-goal to sneak victory at the death in 2014.
“It was an unbelievable day. It’s my proudest day in the Scotland jersey by far.
“I had two coaching points, and myself and Hodgey (Duncan Hodge) had done had a couple of drop goals the day before during the team run. The coaching points were keep my head down and make sure I drop the ball well – that was it.
“I was very fortunate that I had a scrum-half in Chris Cusiter who delivered a bullet pass because the Italians were putting us under a great deal of pressure, so those split seconds I gained from his speed of pass were one of the key factors in making sure I could do my job.”
For Scottish fan’s jitters, hopefully Weir won’t be required to slot over a last-minute winner this weekend, but he showed ice in his veins that day. With his new laid back approach, it should be a doddle for Duncy if it comes to it again.