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'I think half the time he doesn't know what he is doing...'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Paul Devlin/SNS Group via Getty Images)

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Finn Russell has received a glowing endorsement from Stuart Hogg, his Scotland skipper, ahead of this Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations opener versus England at Murrayfield. The maverick out-half comes into the match most certainly in the English crosshairs after visiting defence coach Anthony Seibold spoke on Friday about the need to shut the Scottish playmaker down.

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“A super talented player” was how the Australian newcomer to Six Nations coaching described Russell. “If you watch his club form in Paris (with Racing) he is playing outstanding and he brings that to the Scotland team. You’re talking about how do you take away his weapons? Well, obviously time and space.    

Finn Russell wants time and space where he can ball play. He has a very effective kicking game, both short and long, so you need to take time and space away from Finn. That is easier said than done of course. 

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“Making sure that we go after Finn Russell, not in an outside our defence system way but we want to make sure we put pressure on Finn Russell and you need to win the collisions, you need to win the ruck and the ruck speed to be able to do that.”

The threat that Russell will pose England was a subject that Scotland skipper Stuart Hogg took up later on Friday when he held his eve-of-match media briefing. “Finn Russell is up there with the best tens in the world because he understands the game incredibly well and I think half the time he doesn’t know what he is doing, so if he doesn’t know that he is doing then everybody else has not got a bloody clue. 

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“But he is quality, he is absolute quality. He cares deeply about this squad, he cares about getting the best out of himself. When he is firing and has got a forward pack going forward that he is one of the best tens in world rugby. To try and defend him, I’m sure England will have a strategy to try and keep him quiet.

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“But I am sure he will find ways in and around that to have a big impact on the game and for me to have the opportunity to play outside Finn is absolutely incredible and hopefully tomorrow he is on song.”

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