Gregor Townsend has made 14 changes to the side which started against Samoa last Monday for Wednesday’s penultimate World Cup Pool A clash against Russia.

The major reshuffle was widely expected given the lowly status of the opposition and the need for as many leading players to be kept fit and fresh for the team’s do-or-die clash against host nation Japan just four days later [this coming Sunday].

While Russia have exceeded expectations at this World Cup, earning widespread praise for their controlled physicality and shrewd kicking game, they remain minnows on the world stage and haven’t had enough firepower to get within 20 points of their opponents in any of their three matches so far against Japan, Samoa and Ireland.

Scotland really need to get a bonus-point win out of this match, and they should have enough ability and experience in this back-up squad – which includes seasoned campaigners such as John Barclay (as captain), Ryan Wilson, Peter Horne Duncan Taylor and Tommy Seymour – to get the required result.

Fraser Brown, who is usually a hooker, but came through the ranks as a flanker and played there during Scotland’s tour of the Americas last summer as well as off the bench against Ireland at the start of the tournament is named on the openside.

“The changes obviously help us make sure the forward pack that started at the weekend get a rest,” explained Townsend.

“You have to be flexible with your squad and fortunately Fraser has played openside already in this World Cup. He played very well against Argentina just over a year ago and he is in excellent form.

"To have him on the field as well as George Turner enables us to rest others."

There is also some exciting young talent in the side, including Glasgow Warriors’ free-wheeling half-back combination of George Horne and Adam Hastings, and Edinburgh back-three men Blair Kinghorn and Darcy Graham – who is the only player in the side retained from the last match (albeit he has switched from the right to the left wing).

Four players in Kinghorn, Pete Horne, Ben Toolis and George Turner are making their first starts of the tournament, while Barclay, Wilson and Seymour will be desperate to use the match to exorcise some of the demons which will have haunted them since being dropped from the match-day in the aftermath of the team’s woeful World Cup opener against Ireland two and a half weeks ago.

Townsend has weighted his bench heavily towards the forwards with a 6-2 split. Henry Pyrgos (a late arrival as injury cover for Ali Price) and Chris Harris are the only back replacements.

The intention is clearly to limit the exposure of the potential frontline players who are playing in the most physically demanding positions. It is all part of the juggling act required to play four Test matches inside a three-week window with a squad of only 31 players.

Squad captain Stuart Mcinally, prop WP Nel, second-row Grant Gilchrist and back-rowers Magnus Bradbury and Jamie Ritchie are among the key men for the Japan clash who could get some game time off the bench. Allan Dell, who picked up a head knock early in the Samoa match, is not included in the squad, but has returned to full training after working his way through the return to play protocol.

“We have had a long rest into this game, but obviously don’t have too long a rest going into our final game,” said Townsend.

“The players had three days off after the Samoa match and we’ve had a traditional week’s build into this game.

“The players who are not involved, the Kobe Eight as they are known, are doing extra sessions and extra fitness. They wish they were involved but they obviously know we have two games in a short space of time.

“We have a job to do, that much is clear,” he continued.

“Russia have gained in confidence, they look a fit team. They have kept on going the longer they tournament has gone on. They were leading at half-time against Samoa, they were just trailing against Japan and they had 90 per cent tackle completion against Ireland.

“They have a very good scrum and an excellent kicking game. I thought the ten who played against Ireland was outstanding in his kicking. Their seven and eight are also excellent players, while the tighthead is one of the players of the tournament in the scrum.

“They will put everything into this. It’s their last game, their last for four years in a World Cup or longer if they do not qualify. We are expecting as good a performance as they gave against Ireland, maybe even a level up.”

Scotland (v Russia at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Fukoroi, on Wednesday 9th October, kick-off 4.15pm Japan time, 8.15am BST): Blair Kinghorn; Tommy Seymour, Duncan Taylor, Peter Horne, Darcy Graham; Adam Hastings, George Horne; Gordon Reid, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Ben Toolis, John Barclay, Fraser Brown, Ryan Wilson. Replacements: Stuart Mcinally, Simon Berghan, WP Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Henry Pyrgos, Chris Harris.