Ex-Scotland international Jim Hamilton has laughed off his live TV blindspot last weekend – championing Finn Russell for Lions tour selection next year without realising at the time that his Channel 4 panel colleague, Wales’ Dan Biggar, is likely to be the player competing with Russell for the No10 shirt along with Owen Farrell.  

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Biggar travelled on the previous Lions tour as back-up to Farrell and Johnny Sexton, with Russell only briefly coming in the squad in New Zealand as one of the infamous ‘Geography Six’, the additional resources Warren Gatland controversially called on to lighten the training load in the build-up to the Test series versus the All Blacks. 

With Russell’s Test future with Scotland still uncertain following his high profile falling-out at the start of this year with Gregor Townsend, his form for Racing 92 is viewed as critical if he wants to catch the attention of Lions boss Gatland ahead of the trip to South Africa.

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Russell went on to be the weekend match-winner for Racing, his role in the late try in Paris proving decisive in dethroning Champions Cup holders Saracens to set up a final next month versus Exeter in Bristol.

However, Hamilton’s willingness to cheerlead the efforts of Russell wasn’t reciprocated by Biggar and it was only long after the live broadcast had ended that it dawned on the former Saracens lock as to why the Welshman was so cold about his praise of the Racing player. 

Reflecting on his TV faux pas, Hamilton told The Rugby Pod show he fronts with Andy Goode: “Dan got brought into the Channel 4 panel pre-match quite late on in the day, and you know how much I love Dan Biggar as a player – he is one of my favourite players. 

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“I’m not that nervous around him because we have had him on the podcast and whatever. But there was a thing put in place around Finn Russell as I had been doing this Channel 4 gig for a couple of weeks and I was talking up Finn Russell before the game. 

“I didn’t even put arrogantly, stupidly two and three together to make twelve or whatever it makes that if Owen Farrell doesn’t play for whatever reason, then you have got someone like Dan Biggar who could potentially start No10 for the Lions. 

“So I’m talking up Finn saying if Owen Farrell, his discipline isn’t great or he gets injured, if Finn steps up in a semi-final today and really, really cements himself as a world-class No10 he could be starting No10 for the Lions. I’m looking for Dan to give me the nod, ‘Like Jim knows what he is talking about’. Nothing. Absolutely nothing! 

When Finn then does his chip over the top, I’m like, ‘Mate, he’s Lion’. Nothing. Nothing off Dan. And I didn’t even clock until after that obviously he is going to be vying for the position. They are going to be competing and I didn’t put two and three together to get ten.” 

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