As a five-year-old, John Barclay dreamed of becoming an international rugby player and running out into a stadium packed with fans cheering him on. Sitting in the stands at the 1992 Hong Kong Sevens, these fantasies seemed so far away, mere daydreams. Not any more. Next Sunday, Barclay could see his wish come true when Scotland open their World Cup pool C campaign against Portugal in St Etienne. Barclay is one of the 30 bravehearts chosen by Scottish coach Frank Hadden for the sixth World Cup, which begins on Friday. The Hong Kong-born Barclay, 20, is thrilled at the prospect. A road which began at Stanley Fort as a mini-rugby player, has reached journey's end. Or in Barclay's case, it could well be the beginning of an illustrious phase in his career. He is still uncapped, in fact the only uncapped player in the kilted party. 'It has still not sunk in yet that I'm at the World Cup. We had been training for months as an extended squad so to be left out would have been very hard. Fortunately, I was picked,' said Barclay. Barclay was not everyone's favourite to make the cut from the 39-man training squad. But when Hadden unveiled his team in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle earlier this month, the Glasgow Warriors flanker was the first name to be announced. Being a Barclay has its benefits - alphabetically. 'When I found out I was delighted. It was nerve-racking waiting for the call,' Barclay said. 'It is a great honour to be involved and special that Frank has had the faith in me despite having no caps.' Barclay was born in Hong Kong in 1986 and came from a family with a rich sporting background - dad Graham represented Britain in decathlon and went on to play rugby for Northampton Saints, while mum Susan played basketball at age-group level for Scotland. They turned out for Hong Kong Football Club at rugby and squash respectively when they lived here. 'A few months after John was born we had to move to Europe,' relates dad Graham. 'I used to work for British Petroleum and my work took me to Switzerland and Belgium. But we soon returned to Hong Kong and in 1992 my eldest son, David, started playing mini-rugby at Stanley Fort and John followed in 1993.' The most vivid memories of his rugby-playing days in Hong Kong are those as a spectator watching the flamboyant Fijians and a New Zealand player called Jonah Lomu in action. 'To be honest, I don't remember a great deal about the playing side in Hong Kong. But I remember being in the stands at the Hong Kong Sevens and being amazed by the whole occasion,' Barclay recollects. The lure of the Sevens brought the Barclay family back to Hong Kong even after they moved out once again - this time to Malaysia - in the mid-1990s. 'I have always wanted to play at the Hong Kong Sevens and I have still not ruled out playing there with the Scotland sevens team. Some of my peers at Glasgow Warriors have played there and say it is one of the highlights of their careers. 'I was due to be involved in the IRB Sevens circuit two years ago, but a few injuries at Glasgow meant I was required there and was not allowed to play,' Barclay recounts. Perhaps it has been for the best. A career which took off after he - and elder brother David - was boarded at Scotland's top public school, the Dollar Academy, gathered momentum as he was selected to play for Scotland at various age levels, including captaining the under-15 team. Dad Graham reveals it hasn't been a cakewalk: 'John's development in rugby, while rapid, was not trouble-free. In his early teens he suffered septicaemia in the leg, and had to have surgery, missing a whole year of sport. 'Then, when in his final year at school, he suffered from a pelvic injury, thought by many to be caused by too much weight training, which prevented him playing for eight months.' But it soon dawned on Barclay that perhaps one day, those fantasies as a kid in Hong Kong could become a reality. 'I'm not quite sure if I could pinpoint a decisive moment in my life. But when I joined Glasgow and started playing regularly and became involved in Scotland training squads, I began to realise that maybe the chance to play for Scotland was not so far away.' Hadden's decision to lean towards forward power in the squad and plump for a 17-13 split between forwards and backs worked in Barclay's favour. And despite not having tasted international rugby, he was called up. A specialist open-side flanker, Barclay had hoped to break his duck before the World Cup by figuring in the warm-up games, but so far Hadden has ignored him. Now the World Cup is just days away and the build-up is over. Barclay is pragmatic about being overlooked so far. 'Being a specialist can work both ways. If Frank wants a specialist open-side to play then it benefits me but if he wants to play with a bigger pack, with more versatility and more options then it can work against me. 'I'm just looking forward to getting the chance to prove myself and show everyone what I'm capable of,' added Barclay. Scotland's best result at the World Cup so far has been reaching the semi-finals in 1991 before losing a dour battle, 9-6, to 'olde' enemy England. The Scots then lost the third-place play-off to New Zealand, 13-6. All eyes are on reaching the quarter-finals this time around. 'I think as long as we qualify for the quarter-finals, anything is possible. After the group stage, all games are just a one-off and anything is possible as long as we play to our potential,' Barclay said. Scotland are pooled with New Zealand, Italy, Romania and Portugal and should fancy their chances of making it through to the last eight. But Barclay is not thinking so far ahead, as yet. 'First of all I'm desperate just to get that elusive first cap. Beyond that, I obviously want to play as much for Scotland as possible and just see where that takes me. Playing for Scotland is hard enough in itself, so I think it is important just to take things one step at a time,' he added, feet very much on the ground. The days of dreaming are over for Barclay.