Blair Kinghorn admits he can have no complaints about losing the Scotland number 10 jersey to the resurgent Finn Russell over the past few months.
The 26-year-old Edinburgh player looked to have usurped the Racing 92 playmaker as Gregor Townsend’s first-choice stand-off heading into the autumn Tests.
Kinghorn played there in the final Six Nations game last year against Ireland and then continued in the role in the summer tour of South America when Russell was given time off to rest.
Townsend then left Russell out of his initial squad for the autumn tests due to the head coach’s concerns about his form and declared that Kinghorn was “in the driving seat” after selecting him to start his sixth consecutive match in the October Test against Australia.
That proved to be his last start for the national team, however, as Russell was called in for the third autumn Test against New Zealand and has excelled in his four appearances since returning to the fray.
“Finn’s obviously a world-class player who’s really hitting his form now and you can see how good he is when he’s in form,” said Kinghorn. “He brings the other 14 players with him and gives us really good front-foot attacking ball to play off.
“There are ups and downs to it. Obviously you want to be starting but you’ve got to give credit where it’s due and the man in form is the man you want to pick, definitely.
“You just have to accept that Finn’s top quality and when he’s in that form, he’s going to play. That’s what you want, you want your best players playing.
“You saw what he can do on Saturday (against Wales), creating something out of nothing, putting us in really good scoring positions and the crowd getting behind him.”
Kinghorn has played most of his career at full-back before recent exposure at stand-off for club and country. In both of this year’s Six Nations games, he has come on as a replacement for full-back Stuart Hogg.
“I’m obviously pushing because everyone wants to be starting but if my role is to be on the bench and come on and bring an impact, then that’s my role,” he said.
“I just want to be involved in the 23. I’ll give it everything I’ve got to force my way into the starting team.”
Kinghorn was introduced to the action after just 13 minutes on Saturday when Hogg suffered a head injury and the Edinburgh man went on to score the Scots’ fourth try in their 35-7 destruction of Wales.
“When you’re on the bench, you usually warm up about 15 minutes and then 35 minutes,” said Kinghorn. “I was just settling on the bench and someone shouted ‘Blair, Blair, you’re on’, so it’s straight panic and everything comes off.
“It’s quite good though because you get thrown in straight away and you don’t get time to think, which is what you want.
“It was good to get some more minutes. I felt confident and comfortable coming on at 15 because I was happy with the touches I had at Twickenham the week before.”
The Scots will aim to make it three wins on the spin when they face France in Paris a week on Sunday.
“We’ll go with confidence,” said Kinghorn. “We went there two years ago and got a victory and I feel like we’re a better team now.
“Eighty minutes of rugby, anything can happen. If we get our rugby right, any team in the world will struggle to play against us.”