FRASER BROWN says he doesn’t have a clue whether he will be selected in his usual position of hooker, or in his previous position as an openside flanker, for Scotland’s third World Cup pool match against Russia next Wednesday. And that's fine with him.

After a summer in which he spent most of his time separated from the main squad as he battled back to fitness from a foot injury picked up at the tail-end of last season, he is just desperate to be involved.

The 30-year-old has come off the bench in Scotland’s two matches in Japan so far – at flanker in place of the injured Hamish Watson against Ireland and at hooker against Samoa – but could really do with a start.

With third-choice hooker George Turner also desperate for game-time having not been involved at all yet, and Scotland having just five out-and-out back-row players in the squad, the smart money is on Brown wearing the No.7 jersey against Russia so that as many front-liners as possible can be rested ahead of what is expected to be a quarter-final qualification decider against tournament hosts Japan four days later.

HeraldScotland:

READ MORE: Gordon Reid the headline name as Super 6 squads announced

However, predicting Gregor Townsend team selections is never straight-forward, so Brown says he is keeping an open mind.

“I just get told every week that I have to know the roles of both two and seven, because you never really know what is going to happen in rugby,” he said.

“It might happen, or it might not happen, or it might happen halfway through a game. So, the way rugby is nowadays, you just have to prepare for every eventuality.

“I’m just really happy to have been involved in the last two games,” he added. “Obviously, after my summer, which was a little bit disrupted as opposed to everyone else’s, it was just a real positive thing for me to be fit to play against Ireland and then again at the weekend. Yes, I’ll be hoping to get a little bit more game time next week.”

Given the importance of the games in question, the brutality of modern professional rugby and the current concern in the sport about player welfare, it seems crazy that Scotland are having to play two matches inside such a tight timescale. Although it is worth noting that they are not the only team in this situation.

Getting through 40 pool games inside a three-and-a-half week window was always going to lead to some teams facing tight turnarounds. If that is unavoidable then increasing the squad sizes from 31 would at least reduce the risks involved with players playing big two massive games with just a few days’ recovery period.

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper said at the start of the tournament that bigger squad sizes will be given proper consideration ahead of the next tournament in France in 2023. But, for the time being, Scotland and every other team in the tournament, must mix and match with 31 players.

HeraldScotland:

READ MORE: No nerves, only excitement for chilled Darcy Graham

Asked if he thought 31-man squads are big enough, Brown said: “I don’t think it is but it’s what we’ve got to work with at the minute.

“Again, you just have to look at the progression of rugby over the past couple of years, the physical demands of it. It asks a lot.

“Don’t get me wrong, World Cups are meant to be challenging. It’s not meant to be easy. The reason you’re selected to go to the World Cup is because you’re a good player, but it’s meant to be a challenge to be able to perform and win.

“But 31-man squads leaves you open to disadvantages in your squad, because you’ve got to pick … well most teams go with five props, three scrum-halves, three hookers, but some teams have gone with two scrum-halves, and four years ago someone went with two hookers … so, you’ve got to take gambles and hope that luck’s going to be on your side.

“It does put a lot of strain on players, particularly now when we’re talking about player welfare and HIAs (head injury assessments) being a massive focus for the past two or three years.

"You only have to look at other aspects of the game, predominantly the ruck to see the risk that players are at now. So, 31 is probably too few but it’s the parameters that we’ve got to work with here.”

Despite the inherent challenges of a four-day turnaround, Brown says this will not be an excuse for a sub-par performance against either Russia or Japan.

“It’ll be difficult, you can’t hide away from the fact it’s difficult to play two test matches in four or five days. There will be tired guys who will probably play in both games – whether they start both or come off the bench – but we’ve known this for a long time. You’ve got to get your head round it,” he said.

“It will be something some haven’t experienced before but it is what it is. You just need to get on with it, get your head in it, get ready for Russia and, as soon as that game against Russia is finishe,d get prepared properly in the time we have for Japan.”