GREGOR Townsend confessed safety in numbers does not apply to Duncan Weir after counting the Worcester Warriors stand-off out of his draft World Cup squad.

The Dark Blues head coach has named an initial 42-man training group ahead of this year's finals in Japan.

Two slots for a lock and a wing remain to be filled before a final say on who the 31 travelling to the Far East is made but for the moment there is no space for Weir.

The former Glasgow and Edinburgh playmaker has rediscovered his best form since moving to Sixways but even so he remains behind Racing 92 star Finn Russell and Guinness PRO14 young player of the year Adam Hastings in the battle for the number 10 shirt.

Four years ago the 27-year-old was part of a 46-man training squad selected for the World Cup in England by then head coach Vern Cotter and made the cut as he travelled south to provide back-up to Russell.

But with Townsend deciding to go with a tighter group this time round he admits Weir has paid the price.

"Duncan has not fallen out of the picture entirely," he stressed.

"He's obviously not in our squad but partly that is due to the lower number of players we have selected.

"We've selected two stand-offs primarily and we know there are other players in our squad who can play at 10.

"Duncan was very close to the selection. If it had been a bigger squad he'd have been in there.

"Duncan is playing the best rugby probably of his career. It shows that when you get to play regularly you can improve and play with confidence.

"I was down watching him at the weekend and he's very close to the squad.

"He has shown he can play an accurate attacking game with a lot of touches on the ball, making good decisions.

"That's pleasing for us but with the numbers we chose he is one of many people who have just missed out, not through form but just through the fact we've picked a smaller squad."