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Finn Russell on training with Blair Kinghorn in wake of Stuart Hogg's exit

By PA
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - MARCH 12: Scotland player Finn Russell (l) and Blair Kinghorn react after the Six Nations Rugby match between Scotland and Ireland at Murrayfield Stadium on March 12, 2023 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Scotland fly-half Finn Russell has been encouraged by his blossoming on-field relationship with Blair Kinghorn following the surprise retirement of 100-cap full-back Stuart Hogg.

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Hogg announced his immediate retirement three weeks ago after deciding his body could not handle his initial plan to keep going until after the World Cup.

Russell and Hogg had a close understanding honed by many years playing together for Glasgow Warriors and their country but the new Bath signing feels there is potential in a partnership with Edinburgh’s Kinghorn, who had recently been one of his rivals for the number 10 jersey.

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“It’s obviously slightly different,” said Russell on adapting without his former captain. “What Hoggy brought, he has so much experience at the top level so I was able to bounce questions off him and interact really well. We got on really well.

“It’s obviously different having Blair or Ollie Smith there, whoever is playing for us.

“But in training, if it’s been me and Blair in the same team, as we all know Blair can play 10 really well, so we have interacted really easily and chopped and changed who is at 10 all the time. Sometimes if he is in the wide ruck he might jump into 10 in the next phase which allows me to be a little bit wider.

“The way Blair has been training at full-back has been really good. He is hitting the ball really well, he is a big guy, he is really quick. He has different attributes to Hoggy.

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“The way we have linked has been really good which is great to see because it is a new relationship between me and Blair at 10 or 15. Hoggy has been there for the last 10 years.”

Russell bowed out of a five-year spell in France with Racing 92 in June to sign for Bath but is relishing the prospect of a swift return for the World Cup, where Scotland face Ireland, South Africa, Tonga and Romania in Pool B.

Russell said: “The following they get for rugby in France, it’s one of the best countries in the world for that, and for the World Cup it will be even more.

“I was at the 2015 and 2019 World Cups but for me this could potentially be the best one for us as players with the atmosphere and hype.

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“I know what the French crowds can be like and what the build-up to games can be like. Obviously so will Richie Gray. Hopefully I can chat to the boys and tell them what it will be like. It won’t be like Japan or even like London, Newcastle or Leeds. It will be very different.

“The opening game is at Marseille, I have never played at that stadium but I have heard it’s amazing.

“It’s the biggest stage and a country that loves rugby so it will be great fun.”

Scotland face the hosts on consecutive weekends, with the first of the summer series taking place at Murrayfield on Saturday, before they complete their warm-up programme against Georgia.

“These next three games will be really important, for myself and the team, to get back into it,” Russell said.

“It’s six or seven weeks I have not played so it will be good to get out as quick as possible this weekend and get back to playing well.

“I might play well straight away, I’m not sure, but after eight weeks off it’s very different going from training to a Test match against the number two team in the world.”

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Comments

1 Comment
M
May 326 days ago

With Finn's flair I'm sure he'll come on to a game pretty quickly.

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