IF there was any justice in the world then when John Barclay gets on the plane tomorrow, he would be about to join Chris Paterson as the only Scots to have made it to four Rugby World Cups.

He fulfils the criteria in that he first played in 2007, making this the fourth since his debut. Inexplicably, however, he missed selection four years ago.

You would expect a snub like that to hurt. After all he knew he had played well enough in the warm-up games to merit a spot and later Vern Cotter, the coach at the time, seemed to accept the mistake when he not only recalled Barclay but made him captain.

“Four would have been nice but three is great,” he insists. “If you had told me last World Cup that I would not have been picked but then four years later I would have captained my country and would be getting picked for the next one,

I would probably have taken that.

“I did not watch any of that last World Cup, not a single game. I went straight back and played for the Scarlets. The week after I was dropped, I drove down to Llanelli on the Monday and played for them back up in Scotland on the Friday.

“The blessing was being away from Scotland, part of a squad that was going places; starting the journey with them [which ended with the Guinness PRO14 title the following season]. I didn’t watch any of it, I had a young family so I just got on with being a dad.”

For all that, as a player who turns 33 in the week of the opening games, he is in the best position of any of the current squad to assess where this one is in terms of Scotland’s World Cup history and what to expect from the tournament.

“They have all been different; 2007 was all about bulking up and I hardly ran, 2011 was about running loads with hardly any gym – so I ran loads – last World Cup and this were reasonably similar but this time we have not run without the ball yet.

“It is the first time in my career I have never run without the ball,”

he said.

“In 2007 and 2011 I was a bit naive and probably did not understand how big a deal it was. Then, four years ago, I was desperate and did not go. Now, when you get towards the latter stages of your career, you can see how special these things are, see the guys who are not picked and how they are gutted not to go. It is massive to be there.

“Everyone always thinks the squad you are in is the best, that is the nature of the game. Styles are evolving, people are getting more skilful, the game is getting faster, so squads are always the best you have been involved in. this one does seem to have the most depth to it. Guys genuinely played very well and still did not get picked,that tells you a lot.”