Finn Russell: Ex-Falkirk star hailed by Scotland coach Gregor Townsend ahead of Six Nations
and live on Freeview channel 276
The Racing 92 star, who played for Falkirk back in 2011, was initially left out of Townsend’s squad for last year’s Autumn Nations Series casting doubts over his international career.
However after being drafted back into the squad due to injury, he responded with excellent performances against New Zealand and Argentina and is now expected to be Scotland’s key player going into the tournament.
“People change throughout their rugby careers and their lives,” said Townsend of Russell at the media launch of the Guinness Six Nations in London. “You’re a different person at 20, 21 years old than you are at 30. Finn has had changes in life – he just became a dad for the first time.
“In the position he plays you’ve got to take a big role in the leadership of the game, and that requires work and preparation – and Finn does that. Maybe it’s something that people here or on social media don’t focus on enough.
"He’s one of the most skilful players to ever play the game – not just playing now, but to ever play the game. What he can do with his passing, his decision-making, his kicking game… You’ve got to practise a lot, watch rugby, and experience rugby, to know when to pull the trigger. And there’s a lot of discipline that has to go into it, to make the decision whether to offload or to kick.”
Russell, who will turn 31 during the Rugby World Cup in the autumn, is in his fifth season in Paris with Racing 92 but has agreed a deal to join Bath in the summer. He has 65 Scotland caps and is on course to play in his third World Cup but Townsend believes the best may be yet to come. “He’s coming into his prime years,” said the coach. “He’s coming into that time where physically you’re still able to compete and do what you want to do, but you have that knowledge of ten years playing at No 10 and are aware of what a defence might look like after two or three phases. So it’s a great opportunity for him – this championship, and obviously the World Cup too.”
Scotland will open their Six Nations campaign at Twickenham against England on February 4, a venue at which they have not lost since 2017.