The last Rugby World Cup came just too soon for Stafford McDowall. Although he had been drafted into the Scotland squad earlier in 2019, the Glasgow centre failed to make it into the group selected to play in Japan.

Four years on, he is ready to make an impact in this year’s tournament in France. More than ready.

Still without a senior cap, McDowall, now 25, has had to wait very patiently for his chance. Some lean times followed that 2018-19 season in which he first came to the notice of the national selectors, and for a while under previous Glasgow coach Danny Wilson he was getting very little game time at club level – hardly ideal when your aim is to get back into contention for international honours.

Since Franco Smith took over at Scotstoun last August, however, McDowall has played far more regularly, and hit his best form. A return to the Scotland squad followed, and he is currently at the team’s training camp outside Valbonne as a member of the group of 41 – and one of only two uncapped players along with Leicester lock Cameron Henderson – chosen by Gregor Townsend to prepare for the World Cup.

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That number will be cut to 33 for the tournament itself, and McDowall knows there are no guarantees that he will be part of the final group. But he should finally make his long-awaited debut in one of the four warm-up matches –against Italy, France twice and finally Georgia – in the summer. And if he does himself justice there, he should at least have a fighting chance of being included.

“I think after last season I’ve definitely put myself in a good position to push forward and try and win a cap,” he said. “The two years before this year were tough and I’ve taken a lot of learnings from that. I had to keep myself motivated and disciplined in my training to hopefully keep myself at the top level when the opportunity came along – like it did this year – to get more game time and hopefully try and push on for a first cap.”

McDowall has captained Glasgow at times this season, and the maturity and leadership qualities which have led to his being given that honour make it seem all the more incongruous that he has yet to play for his country – all the more so given how close he came in 2019. Now though, he can look back philosophically on that period.

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“I was called into the squad halfway through the Six Nations that year, which was the year Glasgow made it to the [PRO14] final,” he added. “I didn’t play too much in the run-in to the end of the season.

“I got a call from Gregor just saying I wouldn’t be involved, but if there were injuries I could be in future. That was my breakthrough season, so maybe it was a bit premature for me at that stage.

“I definitely feel a lot more developed as a player now. I’ve experienced a few different things and I’m definitely more mature and better for it.”

More mature and more versatile, too. While still primarily a centre, McDowall can also play at stand-off and full-back. With Warriors team-mates Huw Jones and Sione Tuipulotu having formed such an impressive partnership in midfield over the past year, that versatility has helped give him more game time, though head coach Smith’s rotation policy has also ensured McDowall of reasonable game time in his favoured position too.

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“At club level we’ve all got a pretty good relationship,” he said of Jones and Tuipulotu, who are with him at the camp in the south of France. “We know the team gets rotated well, and we know that one week one might play, then the next there will be another combination playing. We can all play interchangeably. We’ve lined up at 10, 12 and 13, or 12, 13 and 15. I think we’re all pretty comfortable with each other no matter where any of us plays. We push each other on and want each other to do well and help each other develop.”