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Finn Russell has given 'dead chilled' review of the 3rd Lions Test

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Finn Russell has given his take on the Lions tour just over five-and-a-half weeks after it agonisingly ended in Test series defeat versus the Springboks in Cape Town. The Scottish talisman managed to overcome an early tour injury – a torn achilles – to fight his way back into selection contention with the series on the line in the final weekend. 


There was a clamour for Russell to be involved in the hope that the Lions would enliven their attacking approach on a largely dreary series and this certainly happened in the final match, the soon-to-be 29-year-old getting named on the bench and then getting flung into the action as early as the eleventh-minute due to an injury to Dan Biggar. 

While the Lions ultimately lost out 19-16 in the decider, there were kudos for Russell for the way the tourists played a more unpredictable brand of rugby. However, the out-half has admitted in an appearance on The Rugby Pod that it was the Lions game plan to approach things differently in the third Test, regardless of who happened to be in the No10 role. 

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Reviewing the tour in the company of Andy Goode and Jim Hamilton, Russell was eloquently on his game in describing how the trip to South Africa unfolded, talking about his injury, the ups and downs of the matches and, of course, the infamous Rassie Erasmus rant. He also shed light on what he did post-tour, spending time unwinding in Mykonos and Scotland before reporting back to Racing for the new Top 14 season.

Russell’s post-mortem of the third Test and his involvement in it, though, was the prime focus of his appearance on the Spotify-backed show and he spoke at length about its dynamics, even telling a tale at his own expense about what de described as a rubbish kick and a giggle with Ali Price not long after he was sprung from the replacements bench. 

“The third Test we decided to change the game plan,” admitted Russell, revealing that change in tack by the Lions wasn’t merely the result of him coming off the bench so early in the game, that being more expansive was the plan that Warren Gatland’s team originally had anyway going into the match. “We set out we are going to play off nine, then off 10 and look to go wide and play a more expansive game instead of the first two games where we played off nine the first two phases, then I don’t know, try and go wide I suppose but then after that, it’s hard to go wide because it is so narrow. 


“For the third Test, we had actually decided that we were actually going to have a go and play against them, try and spin the ball wide which suits me. When they named the team I wasn’t sure I was going to be in it or not because I had been injured for the last three weeks, so I was chilled. If I get on for ten minutes, get on for 20, we’ll just see how the game is going and play whatever I think is best for the scenarios in the game, if we are ahead or if we are down, whatever we have to do. 

“I wasn’t expecting to get on after ten minutes and even when Bigs [Dan Biggar] went down I was just on the side chilling, ‘He will get back up, he’s got a sore shin but it’s fine’. I remember Bobby (Stridgeon, the S&C coach) was, ‘Finn get ready, he’s down, he might be coming off’.

“I was like, ‘He will be fine, don’t worry. I was having a drink of my Red Bull thinking he will be fine. Then he got up and went back down again and I was like, ‘He is going to come off so I better stand up and shake a leg a little bit’. 

Then sure enough I was up shaking my legs a little bit, still drinking my Red Bull, and then Bobby was, ‘Finn, you’re on’. I was fine, I was dead chilled. For me, the way we had planned to play that third Test was to hold the ball and have a go at them. I wasn’t nervous, I didn’t feel under pressure. I just wanted to go out there, play the game and have a real crack at them. I’d seen a few things during the first two Tests on how we could take them on and score tries against them. 


“I just went on knowing how I wanted to play the game and I remember in that Test when I came on, the first penalty we got I kicked about ten metres down the pitch and it was like a rubbish kick. I turned to Ali Price and just started laughing to him. He was, ‘Oh no, not one of these games’ kind of thing. I was just laughing at him. But no, I just had fun out there. It was a great experience for me and I just went out and had a bit of fun.”


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