Vern Cotter clearly enjoys being back in Scotland, where he had three happy years as national team head coach between the summers of 2014 and 2017, but the New Zealander – who now coaches the Fijian side who will play at Murrayfield on Saturday – distances himself from any suggestion that he might want to return to his old role.

Having overseen a period of steady and tangible progress, which included Scotland coming within a dodgy refereeing decision of reaching the 2015 World Cup semi-finals, he is sure of a hearty welcome from the home support this weekend.

Many in Scottish rugby believe Cotter was discarded prematurely so Gregor Townsend could take over as national team head coach, and a fair few would argue that bringing him back now to help reinvigorate the side ahead of next year’s World Cup in France would not be a bad idea.

But the man himself has clearly moved on to a new stage in his life. He enjoys splitting his time between Fiji and the family farm in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty, is enthused by the talent he sees coming through the new Drua super Rugby franchise based in the Pacific Islands, and clearly relishes the challenge of helping make a supremely talented group of players truly competitive against the top teams.

“I have some really good memories from here, for myself and my family,” he smiles. “I am catching up with friends who I haven’t seen for a couple of years which is always very nice. As soon as I got out of the airport at Edinburgh it was so familiar. I was back in Scotland but coaching another team, but it is nice to be back.”

When quizzed about returning to Scotland on a more permanent basis, he said: “It is the old saying in life: ‘never say never’ – but it is highly unlikely.

“I would definitely come back to Scotland to go fishing and hunting in the Highlands, or to catch up with some friends, but professionally, rugby-wise, things have moved on.”

In Cotter’s first game in charge of Scotland, against the USA during the summer of 2014, he handed Finn Russell his international debut, and he was taken aback to learn the mercurial stand-off had not been selected for this Autumn’s series.

“I can’t speak for anybody else, but I’m surprised given the player he is and what he’s contributed to Scottish rugby, it has been very good,” said the 60-year-old. “But that’s not my issue and if he’s not playing against us then that’s one less threat we have to worry about.

“We had a great relationship with Finn. That was that era, there’s another one now,” he adds, when pressed on whether he found Russell hard to work with in the same way as Townsend clearly does.

Townsend’s problems with Russell must seem trivial to Cotter, who has to contend with having access to his Fijian players for only very short periods throughout the regular year, and this week he has had to contend with the extra disruption to his planning of Teti Tela, the only dedicated stand-off in his squad, losing his passport in France, meaning he did not arrive in the Scottish capital until last night.

“It is incredibly frustrating when you want to drive a high-performance environment and you don’t have enough time together to get to the standard we want,” he said. “We have to be very patient as we have the World Cup next year when we will have time. They do come together very quickly as they are so close, but you have our first five-eighth who lost his passport in France not with us, you have visa issues, we didn’t get everybody with us until Monday night, and we have two injuries from a Sunday game when Toulouse played Bordeaux.

“We effectively have two training sessions together before we play the game [Tuesday and Wednesday], but on the positive side it is great for us to be given these two Tier One games [against Scotland this weekend and Ireland next weekend] before the World Cup. This is a great thing for us. It should just be a training run for them, but we will get something out of it.

“The theme is easy: you’ve got to dominate the structure to play unstructured rugby. We like unstructured rugby, it comes naturally. But you can’t do that if you don’t dominate the structure. It’s the fundamentals of the game. You can’t hide from having a decent set-piece, being able to be effective at ruck and keeping ball for multiple phases. So that is what we are focusing on.”