GREGOR Townsend admits that Scotland’s 17-14 victory against France on Saturday has helped solidify a few thoughts in his mind as he prepares to select his final 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup. With many of his more established players taking the opportunity to prove their form, the head coach reckons there may only be a “couple of decisions” still pending after this weekend’s third warm-up match against Georgia in Tbilisi.

What isn’t making his life any easier, though, are the injuries picked up by Sam Skinner, Tommy Seymour and Blade Thomson in the course of a bruising encounter at BT Murrayfield.

Losing the former England youth cap from the World Cup to a hamstring problem would be bad enough, but the concussions suffered by both Seymour and Thomson and the indeterminate timeframe it can require to pass protocols is an additional complication as the head coach prepares to trim nine more men at the official squad announcement at Linlithgow Palace next Tuesday.

All three will be ruled out as Townsend decides today on his team for Georgia, a match which will also be a final chance for the likes of Fraser Brown, Sam Johnson and Magnus Bradbury – all of whom have been carrying injuries – to prove their fitness before he confirms his selection.

“This game obviously clarified a few things because players performed well,” said Townsend. “Now, whether they were going to be closer to going on the plane or not, we’ll see.

“We’ve still got one more game [before naming the squad], we’ve given ourselves this opportunity to go to Georgia with a strong team.

“There might be a couple of decisions we have to leave until after that game. And we now have to factor in these injuries, whether they affect our squad selection.”

“If we have any injury doubts, that’s obviously something we take into consideration – particularly with the travel and the quick turnaround.

“We need to have a team out there that is fully fit,” he added. “So there are a couple of players, who weren’t involved today, who we will have to be sure of by Monday if they’re going to be involved in Georgia.

“But we’re going there with a strong team. You know what we’ve done with the first two games, we’ve played 30 different players. Blair Kinghorn has actually ended up playing a fair bit of rugby when he’s been on the bench on a few occasions.

“But that’s what we set out to do. We picked two balanced teams, didn’t play as well in the first game as we could have, played better in the second game.

“Now we’re going to give players opportunities. Players who deserved them – or who are coming back from injury and we want to see them again.”

Rugby at this level is so attritional these days, of course, that Townsend feels certain he will need to use players from outwith his original 31 in Japan in any eventuality. “The reality is we will get injuries after the squad is announced,” said Townsend. “We play Georgia here in two weeks’ time and we will play four Test matches in hot conditions out in Japan. So, even if players don’t make that 31, I’m sure a few of them will make it out to Japan.”

The trip to Tbilisi has long been earmarked as a test case for taking on the World Cup hosts on home soil in a potentially pivotal group match. Townsend used his memories of playing as Scotland’s first ever Six Nations trip to Italy ended in defeat as a cautionary tale about what they could expect out there.

“Do you remember Italy’s first game of the Six Nations?” said Townsend. “I remember for years we didn’t even call the Italy games cap games. But we played at Melrose when Gavin Hastings was captain, back in 1992, against Italy – and only won by two or three points.

“They beat us, they beat Wales, they beat Ireland, I think, before they got into the Six Nations. Georgia are a really good team. We’re obviously going to play them here as well and that will be a difficult enough match.

“Their age-group system is really good now, their 20s team have shown that. And they’re preparing for a World Cup. So to play them in Tbilisi, in the national stadium, is one of the biggest challenges we’ll get. And we can’t wait to see our players get stuck in.”