JOHN Barclay has no intention of today's clash with Russia being his last involvement in any World Cup but he knows that unless he can play well enough to force a change of heart from the coaches, it might be.

He will lead the side out as captain and he knows the team has a job to do. But, like all other 15 starters, he knows the big guns have been rested and at the moment he is not one of them.

After 75 caps over 12 years, the 33-year-old knows he won't be back at another Rugby World Cup as a player and he saw enough in the Samoa game to recognise the new generation of Scotland back row is putting forward a strong case to overtake the old guard now, rather than wait for Old Father Time to do his business.

It has to be frustrating but at least he hasn't lost his sense of humour about it all: "They were rubbish," he joked when asked about his back-row rivals, before getting serious again.

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"They were good, weren’t they? I’ve played enough with Maggie [Magnus Bradbury] and Jamie [Ritchie] at Edinburgh so I know the quality they have.

"I know enough about Blade [Thomson] from speaking to the boys at Scarlets about the qualities he has and just from being around him.

"It’s one of those when you knew there would a reaction. I didn’t doubt the back row would play well, it was a physical game and the boys played really well.

Realistically, Bradbury, Ritchie and Thomson are going to be sent out against Japan, leaving Barclay and his former clubmate back in the days he was at Glasgow Warriors, Ryan Wilson, to scrap for the bench role – Wilson won that battle against Samoa.

For all that, Barclay insists the task at hand is so important that all personal considerations have to be put to one side with no thoughts of the weekend clash with Japan.

"The big game for me is Russia. I have no idea what the team will be for Japan," he said. “I guess the reality is that the guys who are playing against Russia will be on the outskirts for the next game – it doesn’t take much to work out.

"Equally, for the guys who are playing against Russia there is huge motivation to get involved for that Japan match. The reality is there will need to be a big performance and I need to prove I deserve to be involved against Japan."

It is a game with a special meaning for him as he captains Scotland for the first time sine March 2018 – he lost the job where he tore an Achilles' tendon and missed a season's action – and for the 15th time overall.

"I have always loved captaining the team. It’s a strange one, I love doing it but it comes with pressures and responsibilities. When you are not captain you can put your feet up a wee bit," he admitted.

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“It’s still a massive honour, especially in the World Cup. My goal was to get out here so to now be afforded the opportunity to captain the side is a huge honour.

“Aside from that, it doesn’t change a great deal. I will have experienced guys around me, whether it be Ryan Wilson or Duncan Taylor.

"I’ve played enough of these games to know that if you try to score four tries before you score one you can get in a bit of trouble. We’re not thinking about that early on.

"We have to back ourselves and not try to score the fourth before we’ve scored the third. Back our skills, grind them down, we believe our fitness will be superior to theirs.

"We’ll back ourselves and we’re confident, but we’ve seen the trouble they’ve given every team they’ve played. They’re physical, hard at the breakdown, they make things niggly and awkward. When they have the ball they’re abrasive and direct, and they’re hard. We’re under no illusions about it."

It will be an important match for Scotland who have to win with a bonus point to give themselves the slightest realistic hope in the make-or-break game against Japan on Sunday.

Alongside that, for Barclay along with Ryan Wilson, Duncan Taylor and Tommy Seymour, dropped after the Ireland game, it is a chance at redemption. For Blair Kinghorn, Peter Horne, George Turner and Ben Toolis – plus Henry Pyrgos when he comes off the bench – who will be playing for the first time this tournament it is a chance to take out their frustrations on the Russians.

"The vibe's been pretty good," Barclay insisted. "There’s five guys who haven’t played at all and they’re sort of champing at the bit. We’ve been here over four weeks now and they haven’t played a minute of rugby, so that’s frustrating for them.

"I’ve not played a huge amount in four weeks so throughout the squad there’s points to prove about selection and also points to prove to themselves. Guys want to get out there, it’s the World Cup and a big stage and it’s great to be able to play for Scotland again."