A sense of quiet optimism ahead of the World Cup

29/08/15. TSPL Shift. Summer Test.  Scotland v Italy, BT Murrayfield.   Stuart Hogg line up Italy's Leonardo Sarto. ' Picture Ian Rutherford
29/08/15. TSPL Shift. Summer Test. Scotland v Italy, BT Murrayfield. Stuart Hogg line up Italy's Leonardo Sarto. ' Picture Ian Rutherford

So the squad of 31 players has finally been named by Vern Cotter. He has trimmed 17 players from his original extended squad and he now believes that he has a bunch of athletes who can make a good account of themselves at the World Cup in a few days’ time.

The confidence from the crushing win over Italy is clear, and the players all delivered on the park.

29/08/15. TSPL Shift. Summer Test.  Scotland v Italy, BT Murrayfield.  Greg Laidlaw kicks a goal .  ' Picture Ian Rutherford

29/08/15. TSPL Shift. Summer Test. Scotland v Italy, BT Murrayfield. Greg Laidlaw kicks a goal . ' Picture Ian Rutherford

Many saw his selection on Saturday as a potential first choice squad and the players who wore the Scotland shirt delivered in style.

There’s nothing quite like a place in the World Cup squad at stake to focus the mind, and whatever happens against France this weekend in Paris, the game against Italy was the key game in this series of four warm-ups.

Greig Laidlaw has been chosen as captain and this is a huge honour for the Jedburgh man, and certainly deserved.

Here, we have a leader who has earned the respect of his team-mates, is vastly experienced and is a safe pair of hands.

***JP 60-day licence***''Rugby :: Scotland versus Italy, at Murrayfield, Edinburgh, in the 2015 6 Nations. Pictured is Scotland's Vern Cotter. Picture by JANE BARLOW. 28 February 2015

***JP 60-day licence***''Rugby :: Scotland versus Italy, at Murrayfield, Edinburgh, in the 2015 6 Nations. Pictured is Scotland's Vern Cotter. Picture by JANE BARLOW. 28 February 2015

Scotland’s most-capped forward, Ross Ford from Kelso, has seen his career re-vitalised in the past few years and is back to his best.

Only bullets will stop him from reaching 100 caps, and talking of the magic 100, Sean Lamont is on track, with just four more caps to go to reach that magic figure only achieved by one other Scot, Chris Paterson.

Sean is another who deserves his spot in the squad.

He’s upped his game and will play a part in proceedings in England.

Our other Borders representative in the squad is Stuart Hogg from Hawick.

He was probably one of the first on Vern’s sheet, to be honest, and while the area only has three players, they are top quality key members of the squad who will be first choice for the big games.

Former Selkirk and Annan player Alex Dunbar is unlucky to miss out due to injury and he will be gutted, like many others who didn’t make the cut, but who said it’s easy being a professional rugby player?

I’ve said it before. The Six Nations whitewash was unexpected and disappointing, but I firmly believe we are peaking perfectly for the World Cup.

A quarter-final place is a minimum requirement, and I think we are now good enough to finish in the top four.