IT would be easy for Sean Maitland to be resting on his laurels. An established member of the Scotland squad, and coming off a remarkable season finale for his club, surely he has been practising his Japanese for months in anticipation of heading there for the Rugby World Cup?

Only that is not the way he sees it.

“A lot of people are all about ‘you looking forward to Japan’ and I’m going ‘I’ve got to get on the plane first’,” he said. “That goes for everyone in the back three – maybe not Hoggy [Stuart Hogg] but all the rest. It pushes you.”

Maitland was one of the later arrivals at the Scotland training camp, having been given time off after the English Premiership final and using it to visit family in New Zealand, where he was born and brought up.

Still, when he did pitch up, he should have been confident. He arrived with two winners’ medals stowed away and the satisfaction of knowing his tries turned the corner in both finals, levelling the scores at half time in the Heineken Champions Cup win over Leinster and putting his team in front for the final minutes of the Premiership win over Exeter Chiefs.

It shows the 30-year-old wing – he will be 31 when the World Cup begins – is in prime poaching form and also has the advantage of having reminded head coach Gregor Townsend of his ability to double up as a full-back, the position he played in that stunning Six Nations finale against England when Hogg was injured.

So surely that is enough to guarantee a seat on the plane?

Maitland is not having it.

“I guess it is really up to the coach and how he sees his make up. Thirty-one [the final World Cup squad] is not many players,” he said.

“They talk about having guys who can cover multiple positions so I guess it is all up to these games coming up and how we get on. Especially in the back three, there is a lot of compet-ition – there is across the squad. It definitely helps you. These young boys coming through, it pushes you.”

He is in a perfect position to see where the competition is coming from. After all Darcy Graham did score twice in that Calcutta Cup comeback – though Maitland is at pains to point out he had a hand in both.

“He is obviously very talented, he rises about his playing weight,” was his assessment of his colleague-come-rival. “I had a few weeks with him at the end of the Six Nations. He is a guy who keeps his head down and works hard, that is what I love about him.

“He is a very talented, explosive player, one of those wingers who gets off his wing and looks for work. He gets in around nine and ten, it is good for the future of Scottish rugby. He has a hell of a step, so talented, so fast. When you are that fast, especially laterally, it brings that natural power, it does not matter how much you weigh, 80kg or 100kg, it is physics and he is powerful on account of his speed.”

Which does pose a real problem for Townsend, with Maitland and Tommy Seymour representing experience and proven ability while Graham and Blair Kinghorn lead the charge for the next generation with Chris Harris and Byron McGuigan covering the gap between the generations.

It is similar to the problem he has at centre, where Maitland has been a first-hand witness to one of the more remarkable comeback stories as Duncan Taylor, his Saracens team-mate, somehow made it into the squad. That comes despite not playing a Test since getting injured against Fiji two years ago and hardly playing club rugby either after a bad head injury was followed by him tearing both cruciate ligaments in his knee and missing the entire 2018-19 season.

“I can’t imagine what he’s had to go through over the last couple of years,” Maitland said. “Being around him most of that time, he’s such a positive person, he never seems to get too down and it’s just great for him to be back. He’s looking really good, looking sharp, getting back because we all know how talented he is.”

If he is fit, Taylor, usually a centre, has slotted in at full-back too, only adding to the pressure on the back three. It is easy to see why, for all his experience, Maitland is taking nothing for granted.