Kyle Traynor yesterday admitted surprise at his involvement in the EMC Autumn Test series, having been recalled to the Scotland team just months after he was told he was surplus to requirements.

Traynor won his only three caps in the 2009 autumn campaign but injuries and unavailability have contributed to the return of a player who is now plying his trade with Bristol in the second tier of English rugby, the Championship.

"I definitely thought maybe it had passed me by, but I believed in myself, I worked hard and I was honest with myself," he said yesterday. "Sometimes you get opportunities and it's about how you take them. I believe this is a massive opportunity for me.

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"It looked like a long way away [when he left Edinburgh] but I'm here now. It was the last thing on my mind, to be honest. I was looking for a new club and fortunately Bristol came in for me. Rugby is a fickle game and things can change in a short time. Fortunately, it has changed in a good way for me."

His selection – after his former Edinburgh colleague Ryan Grant failed to shake off a calf injury – and a first Test involvement for Gordon Reid, the Glasgow Warrior who will be on the bench, ends a very strange year in the lives of contenders for Scotland's No.1 jersey.

It began in what has been orthodox fashion with Allan 'Chunk' Jacobsen, whose presence at Edinburgh was the main reason Grant and Traynor had few opportunities there.

However, when Jacobsen broke down during the warm-up ahead of Scotland's meeting with Italy, Jon Welsh suddenly found himself hauling on a pair of shorts in the tunnel as the teams were preparing to take the field.

Injury to Welsh, in turn, allowed Grant an opportunity which he seized on Scotland's summer tour. Grant had been in the World Cup squad the previous summer but, prior to moving to Glasgow, he had feared his professional career was over, so marginalised had he become at Edinburgh.

Grant continued to play well, which was fortunate given that Jacobsen was suffering something of a meltdown, missing last week's match against South Africa then retiring from the international game because he was finding the pressures of being in the Scotland camp too much.

It had, in the meantime, looked as if the national team management was loath to risk Traynor since he was left on the bench against New Zealand even though Euan Murray was unavailable and against South Africa following Jacobsen's withdrawal. However, they have now been forced to include him and he looked more toned and muscular than previously as he claimed the move south had benefited his game.

"There is a great infrastructure at Bristol and some really good coaches who have backed me and worked hard with me in the short time I have been there and I owe a lot to them," said Traynor.

He paid tribute to the man he spent so long under-studying and who quit Test rugby after a 12-year involvement this week. "Chunk has been hugely important in my career, ever since I met him as an teenager. He has always helped me and always given me loads of advice," he said.

"I got my first opportunities at Edinburgh through Chunk being injured and he would speak to me about the guy I was up against that week and really helped me along.

"He has been a great bloke. I have a lot of respect for him, he is a great man. I have not spoken to him this week; I spoke to him at the tail end of last week and he said to me 'Mate, you have a massive opportunity make the most of it'."