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341628 / Blog / Rugby Union / Scotland

Invigorated Russell ready to take challenge to Springboks

Invigorated Russell ready to take challenge to Springboks

Finn Russell has always been able to do more than just talk a good game but the Scotland stand-off believes he has reached new levels since overcoming the language barriers at Racing 92.

The 26-year-old swapped Glasgow for Paris in the summer after being targeted by the Top 14 giants to lead their swashbuckling attack.

And the Stirling-born fly-half has made an impressive start to life in the French capital, lightening up the La Defense Arena with his trademark no-look passes and instinctive kicking.

However, he has also had to add a level of restraint to his game in order to marshal Racing through some of the tougher moments they have faced, and that new-found maturity was evident for Scotland last weekend as Russell masterminded an eight-try mauling of Fiji.

Communicating with his new colleagues has been a challenge but with his twice-weekly French lessons slowly but surely taking effect, Russell feels his performances speak for themselves.

He said: “Life’s good. I’m loving it over in France. It’s very different but that’s one of them main reasons I went over there – to get the challenges and the differences.

“The culture has been really good. It’s kind of similar to Glasgow. All the boys are really close – it’s almost like one family, again, like we had at Glasgow. So it’s been really easy to fit in.

“A lot of the boys speak good English as well. I’m trying to learn French but being able to even chat to them in English helps a lot. It’s been easy for me to settle in and worry about the rugby rather than having to worry about settling in.

“One of the differences is I’m there by myself but Paris is an hour and twenty minutes flight over so my mum has been over a lot, my girlfriend Emma has been over quite a lot so it’s been easy, it’s been fine.

“I think me going to Racing was great for me as a player because I had to establish myself as the 10 – the decision maker, the guy that controls the game.

“I’ve had to do that a few times before and I think every time I’ve done it it’s made me a better player.

“Going over there and learning again a slightly different style of rugby and having to adapt to different situations has been good for me.”

Scotland’s Finn Russell was pivotal in Scotland’s 54-17 win over Fiji last weekend (Ian Rutherford/PA)

Control will be a vital element to Russell’s performance as Scotland prepare to take on South Africa this weekend.

Head coach Gregor Townsend believes Rassie Erasmus’s Boks have proved they are one of the most dangerous sides on earth currently with recent victories over New Zealand and France.

And Russell knows he may need to reign in his more flamboyant tendencies at Murrayfield on Saturday.

“They’re obviously very dangerous,” he said. “They score a lot of tries from counter attack and they’re very physical as well, so I think we will have to get a balance between how much we throw it around to playing a territorial game.

“We will definitely have a go for it at times but as every game has, we will have to slow it down and put a high ball up or kick it long and they can have a go and we will defend.

“Against every team you’ll have chances maybe to go wide, or to play through them or offload, but at the same time you want to put pressure on teams as well. It will be depending on how the game unfolds.”



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