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Lions' Russell update: 'Probably sick of me asking how his leg is'

By Liam Heagney

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Finn Russell has been described as “raring to go” three weeks after Warren Gatland voiced concern that the Scotland out-half might have to quit the Lions tour with an achilles injury. It was July 10 when the Lions boss outlined his anxiety over Russell’s fitness, calling up England’s Marcus Smith to provide cover. “There is a slight little wee tear in it [the achilles] so it is going to keep him out for the next couple of weeks,” reported Gatland 21 days ago after the Lions had defeated the Sharks in their third match on South African soil.  

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We are going to try and see if we can rehab him. He is going to be in a boot for the next five days and when he comes out of that, he will have some more treatment and he will still continue to get treatment over the next five days and if he is making good progress then we will assess him going forward. If he is not there is a possibility that he may go home. It’s a wait-and-see situation.” 

That wait-and-see outlook resulted in Smith starting for the Lions in their June 17 match versus the Stormers when Dan Biggar and Owen Farrell were both rested. However, Russell has now reportedly bounced back well and will be looking to force his way into the Lions matchday 23 for next weekend’s tour-ending third Test versus the Springboks, a match that would be taking place 31 days after Russell last played when coming off the bench in the July 7 win in the first fixture versus the Sharks. 

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Bulls’ Jake White on injured Springboks absentee Duane Vermeulen
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Bulls’ Jake White on injured Springboks absentee Duane Vermeulen

“He is probably getting sick of me asking how his leg is,” said Stuart Hogg, Russell’s fellow Scotsman, ahead of this Saturday’s second Test in Cape Town. “I asked him maybe two or three times a day when he was struggling with his injury how he was and by the end of it, he was almost telling me to go to France.

“He is back raring to go and he has trained incredibly well this week. He has really challenged me as a back three player when I went up against him, I have no doubt that he will continue to work hard and hopefully get an opportunity.”

 

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One Scot who is getting his Test team opportunity this weekend alongside Hogg is Chris Harris, who was called in to start in the midfield having not been involved in the 22-17 first Test win. “Over the last couple of years, his game has gone through the roof. He has been one of our best players at Scotland,” enthused Russell. “It gives me a huge amount of confidence in the way that he speaks and the way that he defends and the way that he wants to get involved and the best thing is he doesn’t take himself seriously.

“I just love being in and around his company and I’m chuffed to bits he is getting an opportunity. He has trained incredibly well, he has played really well when he has been given opportunities and now he gets a chance to show what he is like on the big stage. I’m hugely excited for him.”

 

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Lions' Russell update: 'Probably sick of me asking how his leg is'

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