THE rest of the world assumed that Pete Horne had passed up his opportunity to represent Scotland at the World Cup in Japan when he only succeeded in finding flying French wing Damian Penaud with an inadvertent scoring pass just minutes into last Saturday’s warm-up match at BT Murrayfield. Thankfully, both Horne and his coach Gregor Townsend knew differently.

If it was another test of his character, Horne responded well, his sterling efforts alongside Chris Harris helping Scotland to a morale-boosting win on the eve of the tournament. He may not always have felt like he is first name on the team sheet throughout his career but Horne had as much reason as anyone to feel pretty chuffed about making it onto the flight to the Far East. Of the six centres Townsend had retained within his practice group after Nick Grigg and Kyle Steyn dropped out, he ultimately opted for Sam Johnson, Duncan Taylor, Horne and Harris, leaving Huw Jones and Rory Hutchinson both on the outside in, regardless of the latter’s try scoring exploits in Tbilisi.

“A few people asked me if I thought the interception had cost me but I was just raging I had thrown a pass that had been picked off,” said Horne, a veteran of Scotland’s sterling efforts at the 2015 World Cup. “On the way back to the posts I didn’t think of how and if it would affect my chances of going to the World Cup. I didn’t think of the magnitude.

“These things happen,” he added. “It was a test of my character and I had to shrug it off. When I was a wee guy playing I would have made a mistake like that and it would have affected me and my game. I would have clammed up a bit but i knew i had to just get on with it. I was pleased at how I went on to play in that France game. We defended well and I am hoping to get another opportunity before Ireland to stake a claim.”

“Myself and Rory are very different players,” added Horne. “Hutch played really well at the weekend on his first start and I was really chuffed for him and on his first chance he scored a couple of good tries. Shug [Huw Jones] has not been as on fire as he has been in the past but we know what he can do from the past. It was just trusting the coaches and they see me as the man for the job.

“I gave him a wee message when the squad came out saying I was thinking about him and stuff. I get on well with Hugh. I am sure I will see him before I go.”

The mere mention of Craig Joubert and how Scotland were unable to claim a last four spot against Argentina in 2015 under Vern Cotter still rankles with Horne. “It does still bug me,” he said. “It was so weird. We played the quarters on the Saturday and we were on the train home on the Sunday. That was the World Cup gone. It is not until you reflect on it you realise we should have won that game and Argentina had lots of injuries.

“We have to look forward and use that in Japan. We have a group when some of the guys know they won’t have another World Cup coming round desperate to do well. The margins are so fine at international level. We must sure we take our chances.

Taylor meanwhile said that making the World Cup squad capped an amazing turnaround after two years of near constant injury setbacks. “It’s an amazing feeling to be in,” said the Saracens centre, who has 22 caps to his name. “It’s a massive deal for me and my family.

“The whole of last year working hard in rehab was all just aimed at putting myself in the shop window for the World Cup.

“So all that hard work in the gym and in the treatment room has paid off. It was tough to overcome those dark days but I’m lucky that at Sarries and here with Scotland I’m surrounded by good people, good physios and good S&C staff who have all kept me positive and on the straight and narrow.

“I never feared the worst and I feel as strong mentally as I ever have. “