Racing 92 fullback Kurtley Beale has urged British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland to pick teammate Finn Russell at flyhalf against South Africa, after ranking the Scot in the top five No10s he has played with.
The Australian joined Christina Mahon, Ryan Wilson and another Racing teammate Simon Zebo on RugbyPass Offload this week, and was asked where Russell ranks among the flyhalves he has played with.
In a career that has seen the 32-year-old play in Australia, England and France, as well as for the Wallabies, he has played with some of the most stylish and creative flyhalves this century, and included Russell in his top five.
“I’ve been very lucky to have played with a lot of great flyhalves,” the 92-cap Wallaby said. “I’ll rank the top five. Matt Giteau, Quade Cooper, Bernard Foley, Danny Cipriani and I’d throw in Finn there as well.
“I think if you look at those, Quade and Finn are quite similar players. Creative, X-factor, great vision, just awesome skills. So I think Finny-boy would be up there with one of the most exciting players I’ve ever played with. That’s for sure.”
Beale was then asked whether Russell should start at No10 for the Lions against the Springboks later this year. Gatland will announce his squad in three weeks and Russell faces stiff competition from Owen Farrell, Johnny Sexton and Dan Biggar.
“I’d throw him in there, absolutely,” Beale said. “Because you could go with Farrell or Sexton, which is great, but you know what you’re going to get out of those guys. It could be safe houses, for sure, but you put Finn behind a big forward pack going forward and it’s happy days for Finny boy. And with the backs outside him, Finn would just have a field day. He’s done everything he can to put himself in the best position to get selected there and we’ll wait and see.”
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