FIJI head coach Vern Cotter gives a wry smile when asked about the pressure opposite number Gregor Townsend is currently under as a result of his team’s stuttering form which has seen the win just two of nine matches played so far in this calendar year, and the controversial decision to leave talisman Finn Russell out of the training squad for this Autumn’s four-match Test series.

“I’ve just come from New Zealand where they’ve lost four games this year, so if you want to talk about pressure, there’s some massive pressure down there,” he replies. “It’s part of the game. There’s ups and downs. Everyone is looking towards the World Cup now given it’s only a year away and a lot of teams are inconsistent at the moment.

“The pressure can build really quickly, but that’s part of the job. That’s why you get involved. When it’s good, it’s great, and when it’s bad, it’s terrible. That’s just the nature of the game.”

Cotter, of course, once sat in Townsend’s seat as head coach of Scotland between 2014 and 2017. Results weren’t always great during his tenure, either. The team suffered a Six Nations whitewash in his first season in charge and were hammered 61-21 by England at Twickenham in his final championship campaign. But he also led them to within a whisker of a World Cup semi-final appearance in 2015 and the general consensus is that he left the national side in a much stronger place than the rabble he inherited.

“Scotland will be disappointed with losing to Australia last week, but there wasn’t much in it, and I thought they played well,” Cotter added. “They’ve got New Zealand next week, so I anticipate us really just being a training session for them.”

If it is a training session, Cotter concedes when gently pushed that it will be a full-blooded one.

“They’ve picked a very strong team with the exile guys back and the likes of Hoggy at 15,” he acknowledges. “And they’ll be hurting from last week, so I imagine it’ll be a very intense start to the game.

“They’re a fit team and I expect they’ll try and maintain that intensity throughout the game, then they’ll probably try and get us around the 60-minute mark when our legs maybe start dropping off given that we’re a touring team who’ve only just come together.

“From our perspective, we’re rapt. We’re playing against a top team and that’s what we need before a World Cup.”

While Fiji’s preparation has been far from ideal, Cotter was determined to focus on the positives.

“I’ve got three new caps in the squad tomorrow, which is really, really important for us,” he explained. “Sireli Maqala is a young guy who came through the sevens programme, who can play most positions in the backline, and having him as a 22-year-old coming off the bench at Murrayfield against Scotland will be a huge moment in his development.

“We lost our loose-head prop during the week – snapped his bicep tendon on Tuesday so he has to get operated on – so we have Livai Natave, who has never been off the island, getting a crack on Murrayfield. It doesn’t get better than that, does it?

“With the excitement of the crowd and the big feeling around these games, it will bring the best out of our boys.

“Everything is new for these guys, and it is better off now than turning up in Bordeaux next year for the World Cup and being surprised by it.

“If you are really honest about it, it is not a level playing field,” he added. “They played against Australia last week, we’ve had guys with lost passports, visa issues, a guy who snapped his bicep tendon on Tuesday at training, but we’re going to make the most of it – because it is important moving forward.

“We want to have a performance which we are proud of it, which means producing good spells which we can start stitching together and improve on, and that’s where it’s at.”

“It is what it is. We know that. I’m painting the overall picture of the challenges we face, but we have our own objectives and there are things that we want to do in this game.

“We understand the context of it, but we want to get something out of it. We haven’t had the preparation that you would normally like, but the effort and attitude is important for tomorrow.”