Painting by numbers reveals pretty picture for John and Warriors

JOHN BARCLAY has pinpointed Glasgow's strength in numbers as the key reason for their powerful surge recently.

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n John Barclay believes the current squad is the best he has ever seen at his time at Glasgow n Richie Vernon is poised to return to Glasgow after spell with Sale
n John Barclay believes the current squad is the best he has ever seen at his time at Glasgow n Richie Vernon is poised to return to Glasgow after spell with Sale

Traditionally, Warriors have found the going tough during the RBS 6 Nations, but this time around they have recorded bonus-point victories in all three of their RaboDirect PRO12 games during the tournament, culminating in last Friday's triumph at home to Ulster.

Following the news, exclusively revealed in later editions of yesterday's SportTimes, that Richie Vernon will return to Glasgow next term, Barclay has no hesitation in naming the current squad as the best in his nine years with the club.

The Scotland openside reckons that with the returning Scotland contingent, a seventh-straight PRO12 success against Cardiff on Friday night is on the cards.

Barclay said: "This is the strongest squad I have played in during my time at Glasgow.

"Historically, Glasgow have always struggled a bit with the Scotland requirements during the Six Nations, but our results this year prove we have the quality of depth to cope.

"When I first came in we had to go with pretty much the same 15 and squad every time and there just weren't enough bodies to deal with injuries and internationals.

"Now we have three players virtually competing for every place and the fact that we have used over 50 players this season so far illustrates just how much depth we now have.

"To have picked up bonus- point victories against Zebre, Dragons and Ulster during the Six Nations period with guys like Al Kellock missing is unbelievable.

"But we set the bar every high in the performance against Ulster and we need to make sure we keep it up there against Cardiff on Friday night."

The 26-year-old added: "But the news that Richie Vernon is coming back next season will just add to the competition for places in the back row and is further proof of the ambition at Glasgow Warriors to keep progressing."

Friday night's Scotstoun kick-off is Glasgow's last game for three weeks. And with a pivotal trip to European champions Leinster, who sit just two points behind Toony's troops awaiting on the resumption on March 23, Barclay is determined there will be no slip-ups.

The flanker said: "We have put ourselves in a very strong position, but it is vital we go into the break on a high and try and maintain or even widen the gap between ourselves and Leinster.

"Cardiff are going well and only our best will be do."

Meanwhile, Vernon has spoken of his delight at his impending return to Glasgow for a second spell.

He said: "I have learned a lot from my time at Sale over the last couple of seasons.

"However, this is an excellent opportunity for me to return home and play my rugby in Scotland.

"It helps that I know a lot of the guys in the squad already, but I've been watching their progress this season and it's a very exciting time to be getting involved with the club."

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