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The 'rubbed off' Scotland reaction to having Finn Russell back

By PA
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

AB Zondagh explained that Finn Russell has had no problem slotting back into the Scotland squad after earning a recall this week. The Racing 92 stand-off was a surprise omission from the initial group chosen for the autumn internationals, with speculation that there had been a breakdown in relations between head coach Gregor Townsend and Russell after the No10 was involved in an unauthorised night out during the Six Nations in March.

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However, after injury forced Adam Hastings to withdraw from the squad this week, Russell – who has been in good form for his club – was called up ahead of Sunday’s Test against New Zealand at BT Murrayfield. “Finn is a really positive guy who has brought some really good energy into the squad,” said attack coach Zondagh.

“He is a relaxed guy in general and that has rubbed off on the rest of the squad. Finn is a really good player who has been part of our group for a long time. He understands the DNA of the team so he has slotted right back in.

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He will be good value for us whether he is starting or on the bench. I know he will have a good impact, that is for sure. It’s really good to have him back.”

Townsend must now decide whether to keep faith with Blair Kinghorn, who has played at No10 for the majority of games in Russell’s absence, or restore the returning talisman to the starting XV.

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Zondagh is adamant that the presence of Russell presence in the Scotland squad will not have an unsettling effect on Kinghorn. “Finn and Blair have a really good relationship,” said Zondagh. “They feed well off each other off the field and help each other out. In terms of Blair’s performance or how he feels about it, he is happy to have Finn back in the squad too.”

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Zondagh admitted Scotland have not been clinical enough recently but he is confident they are equipped to challenge an All Blacks side who beat Wales 55-23 in Cardiff last weekend. “We are putting ourselves into good positions on the field and creating opportunities but our execution still needs to improve and we’re working on that week to week,” said Zondagh.

“We are happy with where we are at and I’m sure we are going to put on a good performance on Sunday. New Zealand scored eight tries at the weekend, they are a brilliant side. I do think there will be opportunities against them but obviously, it’s not going to be an easy game. We are prepared for the challenge and looking forward to it.”

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