AS Gregor Townsend the Scotland head coach watched two of his four Rugby World Cup locks being escorted gingerly from the field, the only crumb of comfort to ease his worry was watching Scott Cummings prove he was more than ready to step into the big time if called upon.

When you think that for the first half of the season, he was

struggling to get into the Glasgow Warriors side and then failed to make the original 42 picked for the Scotland World Cup training squad, it has been a remarkable transformation.

“Gregor gave me a call, said there was still a slot and to work hard until the end of the season,” Cummings recalled. “When he added me to the squad, I was

genuinely just thinking about

training as hard as I could to try to get a warm-up game.

“There’s been so much good competition between the second-row and back-row positions, everyone has been working as hard as they can and the guys that have had the opportunities to play have fronted up well.”

That certainly includes Cummings. On the form he was showing in the six-try hammering of Georgia on Friday night, he is not just a player on standby in case either or both of Ben Toolis (concussion) or Jonny Gray (tight hamstring) can’t make the opening match against Ireland – he must be close to earn a starting spot by right. He was getting around the field impressively, among the forwards second only to Blade Thomson on the territory gained and to Ryan Wilson on the number of tackles he made, all coming after his first Test try the week before in Tbilisi where he also got a few minutes to remind the coaches he once played in the back row.

“I wasn’t even thinking about Ireland on Friday night,” he said.

“I was just going out to play as well as I could for the team. When we got the attacking play going, we caused them a lot of problems. It’s just about the ability to get that attacking play going a little bit better.

“I took confidence from the game last week. I only got a small amount of time at the end, so the aim was just to get the ball as much as I could.

“The coaches really challenged me after my first game in France to get my hands on the ball a little bit more – I didn’t really make many carries in that game. I’ve been trying to get my hands on the ball as much as I can.”

In the opening half of the season he started only six of the 16 games Warriors played but once he made the breakthrough in January, he played 12 of the next 14 to put himself in the running. He admitted: “The World Cup wasn’t even on my radar last winter.

“There was a bit of time at Glasgow where I wasn’t getting picked, so I just had to knuckle down. When the Six Nations came round I started to get a better run of games.

“I’ve just been trying to keep my head down and not look too far ahead. Japan is obviously going to be a massive event, but the whole team has been really focused on Georgia.”

Townsend always knew he was going to have to tread a narrow path during the warm-up campaign, trying to balance the need to give his players enough game time to get them up to speed with the risk of injury. The second Georgia match demonstrated the dangers with five injuries, including two in a position where he has already lost Richie Gray and Sam Skinner. Though Gray and Toolis are a concern, the big worry is Jamie Ritchie, who got a bang on the face and was undergoing hospital tests before a decision will be made on whether he travels with the squad to Japan tomorrow morning.

Thomson was the final player to leave injured, another with a tight hamstring, but the best guess is that the only one of the five in serious danger of not travelling is Ritchie, depending on whether he has cracked his cheek bone.

Not taking him would be a blow since he is the only squad member who offers specialist cover for Hamish Watson at openside. Magnus Bradbury, who replaced him on Friday, or Matt Faagerson, would be the expected alternatives. Though Fagerson, like Ryan Wilson and John Barclay, has played openside, none would see that as their best role in the team these days.

At least the options at lock are strong enough that even if Townsend is four down for the opening match he will be confident about the starting pair.