Duncan Weir says Finn Russell has helped him let his hair down
In the four-and-a-half years since Duncan Weir last started a game for Scotland the stand-off has evolved and matured.
No longer striving for perfection, the Worcester fly-half has, in his own words, learned “to let his hair down”.
And there’s plenty of it. The mass of frizzy locks has not seen a barber since lockdown and he’s vowed to keep it that way for the rest of the year as he raises money for the Acorns Children’s Hospice Trust. The tally currently stands at £5,700.
Weir is in line to wear the No 10 jersey against Italy on Saturday when Scotland kick off their Autumn Nations Cup campaign in Florence. But don’t expect a hair-raising display from the 28-times capped half-back. As coach Gregor Townsend remarked last week, “there’s a calmness about the way Duncy plays”.
Townsend also suggested that the 29-year-old was “playing the best rugby of his career”, which is just as well as Scotland are without Finn Russell and Adam Hastings, their first and second-choice 10s.
“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,” explained Weir.
“I strove for excellence in my game a bit too much at times [in the past]. 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.”
He says working with Russell has helped him loosen up.
“In the early days at Glasgow, when Finn was coming through and eventually pushing me out, I was always needing things done by the book,” Weir said. “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 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?”
Weir is coming into the team at a good time. The Six Nations win in Llanelli last month was Scotland’s first on Welsh soil in 18 years and the squad are chasing a fifth successive victory in all competitions.
Weir knows all about winning in Italy, famously delivering a last-minute drop goal in Rome in 2014 when Scotland were staring defeat in the face.
He has been used sparingly in recent years but made a brief appearance from the bench in the Six Nations win over France in March. It was his first cap since 2017 and the long absence made him appreciate it all the more.
“I’m hugely passionate about playing for my country,” he said. “I probably didn’t cherish it the same way as I did those two minutes in the Six Nations against France this year. That was one of my proudest moments in a Scotland jersey. It’s been a rollercoaster ride the last three years, between my last cap and this one. It’s been a big journey but I’d do it all again if it meant I was pulling on the jersey with my family and friends in the stands again at a sold-out BT Murrayfield.”
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