Italy v Scotland: enjoyment the key to Duncan Weir’s career revival

Stand-off is ready to grasp the opportunity created at stand-off by the loss of both Finn Russell and Adam Hastings to injury

Duncan Weir is sporting a distinctive hair-styling at the moment. Image: © Craig Watson -
Duncan Weir is sporting a distinctive hair-styling at the moment. Image: © Craig Watson -

THE distinctive bouffant being sported by Duncan Weir at the moment emerged due to a lack of hairdressing options during lockdown, before developing into a charity challenge for the Acorns Children’s Hospice Trust – but it can also be regarded as emblematic of the player’s more relaxed, self-assured and fun-loving approach to life and rugby since moving to Worcester Warriors in the English Premiership back in 2018 and becoming a father the following year.

The 29-year-old is set to start his first game for Scotland in over four and a half years in Saturday’s Nations Cup opener away to Italy, filling the gap at stand-off created by the loss of both Finn Russell and Adam Hastings due to injury.

While Gregor Townsend’s hand is being forced on this selection call, he insisted last week that he has no qualms about turning to a player he has known well since their days together at Glasgow Warriors.

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“Duncy is playing the best rugby of his career,” said the national team’s head coach. “There is now a calmness about the way he plays.

“The way they play at Worcester is not dissimilar to what we want to do moving the ball. He has really improved in that area and he still has that very good all-round kicking ability. He will work hard and defend well so this could be a big opportunity for him with those two injuries. I’m sure he will be doing all he can to grab it.”

Weir agrees with that assessment. “I’ve let the reins down a little bit the last couple of seasons and I feel I have played my best rugby on the back of that,” he explains. “I’m just going out there and trying to enjoy myself. I don’t worry about people’s opinion, or dwell on getting selection for Scotland or Worcester, I just go and express myself – and that has been a massive thing.

“When I moved down to Worcester [in 2018], my goal going into each weekend was to enjoy myself and on the back of that I was playing some good stuff, so maybe after a couple of games that was the moment when I realised this approach to playing worked for me, and that enjoying yourself is no bad thing,” he adds.

“In the past, I drove myself to get excellence in my game a bit too much at times. Now I still prepare the same but when I am on the field, I am a bit more relaxed. I am trying to let my hair down a bit more and express myself in the best light.

“Fatherhood has definitely helped me not bring rugby back into the house, although I still can’t go to sleep after a match until I’ve watched it back. After that I lock it away and its family-time until I go back into the workplace on a Monday. Maybe it’s stopped me dwelling on things as I did in the past.”

Weir adds that watching Russell develop from his understudy at Glasgow into one of the highest rated stand-offs in world rugby is another factor which has helped his own mindset.

“In the early days at Glasgow, when Finn was coming through and eventually pushing me out the [starting] spot, I was always needing things done by the book,” he recalls. “If I made a mistake, I’d probably punish myself a wee 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 over the years. Personally, I think he’s one of the best 10s in the world so why wouldn’t you tap into that mindset?

“With two guys injured, I was the third stand-off named in the squad, but the team for Saturday is not announced yet,” he continues. “Honestly, I don’t know what the team will be but I’m ready to go and express myself and lead the team.

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“I’ve had a good relationship with Finn and Adam over the last couple of weeks – it has been great to catch up with Finn, especially, after not seeing him around the Six Nations time. We speak regularly – we have a couple of half-back meetings a week and talk rugby all the time – so I maybe wasn’t playing but I knew what these guys were thinking, and what they were trying to achieve going into the games.

“So, my finger is on the pulse in terms of the game-plan and I know all the little details having been 24th man the last couple of weeks. It won’t be a massive transition in terms of getting up to speed with things.”

Weir has fond memories of playing Italy away, with the highlight of his 28-cap career to date being the dramatic 35-yard, last-minute, drop-goal which secured a wooden-spoon avoiding victory over the Azzurri during the 2014 Six Nations.

“It’s my proudest day in the Scotland jersey, by far,” he reflects. “It was a great day and a tough old game, as we’ll face on Saturday. We know how big a challenge it is to go out there to Florence and perform.”

Scotland will be hoping it isn’t quite as tight this time round.

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About David Barnes 3384 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Hes been in great form over the past year or so and I’m sure he’ll step up the plate in the coming weeks. Great to have him back, shame about the circumstances though.

  2. He is playing well in a team in England that’s in the bottom half of the league, but he has had some good games and wins and his kicking has improved, and we are short of a good kicker and a no 10. So who else do we have?. The hair is great.

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