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Finn Russell back in after controversial omission

By PA
(Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Finn Russell has won a Scotland call-up after fellow stand-off Adam Hastings was ruled out through injury following Saturday’s win over Fiji.

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Russell was a controversial omission from Scotland’s original squad for the Autumn Nations Series but is back in the fold ahead of Sunday’s BT Murrayfield clash with New Zealand and the visit of Argentina on November 19.

Blair Kinghorn and Ross Thompson were also chosen ahead of the 30-year-old Racing 92 fly-half with Gregor Townsend citing “form and consistency” levels as the key criteria for his selection.

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Kinghorn started in the narrow defeat by Australia, scoring a try before missing a late penalty which would have handed Scotland victory.

Gloucester number 10 Hastings came in for the second game of the series and scored a try but was forced off early in the second half of Saturday’s 28-12 victory over Fiji with a head injury, while he was also having a knee issue assessed.

After the game Townsend said he had not spoken to Russell since informing him last month he was not in the original squad but the head coach insisted that was not unusual.

“If people are not in the squad I don’t phone them up regularly unless there’s something to talk about,” he said. “But I’d imagine he’d be available.

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“He was disappointed not to be in the squad. If we decide to bring another 10, he’ll be one of the ones we’ll be looking at.”

Hooker George Turner has brushed off an injury concern after scoring one of Scotland’s four tries on Saturday.

A brief Scottish Rugby Union statement on Twitter read: “Finn Russell joins the Scotland squad with Adam Hastings returning to his club. George Turner remains with the team as preparations continue for Sunday’s game against New Zealand.”

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Nickers 1 hours ago
'One of the poorest All Blacks performances I've seen in a long time'

Extreme hyperbole from Biggar. NZ have played far, far worse than that. The 20/21 team was by far the worst of the professional era. Losses to Argentina, shambolic game against Japan and hapless NH tour of 2021. But even that dreadful team were able to put 50 points on Wales and beat them by 38. Much easier to “tear them to pieces” from the commentary box apparently. Ignored by virtually everyone is how good the ABs defence was. That is why England didn’t win, they simply could not score enough points against that defence. The ABs attack was very average, but their defence was world class and that’s what won them the game. Any Wales team that Biggar has ever played for would have found themselves in the same situation and would definitely not have scored tries from those cross kicks. That ABs team beats Biggar’s best Wales team 31 - 13. England’s attack was as good as it was allowed to be by a superior defence. Hats off to Hansen, he has picked up where MacLeod finally got the ABs to last year and not missed a step. England’s attack will be a big worry for Borthwick. They have not established a reliable, repeatable way to break teams down and score points. They were held to some very low scores by average teams in the 6N, and again here didn’t cross 20 points on either occasion. If I was an England fan I would be crying out for a new attack coach. Borthwick would do well to cast his net now, a poor home winter with a faltering attack will start the calls for his job.

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T
Thomas 1 hours ago
'Champions get up when they can't': Matt Williams weighs in on Ireland's win over Boks

While both teams have their particular positives, I think neither team should rest on their laurels. South Africa managed to tie a series against an uncomfortable opponent, that has had their numbers for a couple of years, while trial-running a completely new attack system, that still doesn’t work properly. But one aspect of “it doesn’t work yet” is a transition from attack to defense in broken play, as the Boks leaked three tries in two matches this way, and lost the second match as a result. Ireland avoided a series loss in a hostile environment, and in spite of many key player injuries, while managing to significantly improve and tighten their defense in game 2 (which demonstrates the breadth of their squad as well as their ability to adjust and recalibrate). At the same time, their own attack hadn’t amounted to much, either (save from exploiting the gaps in the Boks’ new system, gaps that won’t be there anymore in a few months’ time), and they haven’t found an answer to the Boks scrum, which almost costed them the 2nd match, if it hadn’t been for pretty much unrepeatable Frawley heroics. In the end, there isn’t much that separates those two sides … which is exactly what we knew before the series already. Back to the drawing board for both teams, the work only just begins for two teams with the highest ambition. Start of a cycle alright.

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