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The 'scary, scary thing' Stuart Hogg has noticed about Finn Russell

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Patrick Khachfe/Getty Images)

Life is now very different for Stuart Hogg, the ex-rugby player. It was July 9 when he brought forward his planned retirement, scratching the idea that he could play for Scotland at the Rugby World Cup and then call it quits.

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Instead, the 31-year-old accelerated his goodbyes and just 10 days later, on July 19, was unveiled as a new TNT Sports pundit for the 2023/24 Gallagher Premiership season.

That new TV role was why he spent Wednesday morning hanging out with Finn Russell, his old Scotland and Glasgow pal, at the Bath training ground.

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Hogg spent the last four years of his club career at Exeter after exiting the Warriors in 2019, one year after Russell, his fellow 31-year-old, upped sticks to head to Racing for a five-season stint that ended last summer with his decision to check out the Premiership.

Russell’s Bath career is just four games old but he has already made quite an impression, none more so than last Friday night when Johann van Graan’s team won 45-27 at Kingsholm.

Just 19 months ago, Bath limped away from Gloucester on the back of a humiliating 0-64 hammering, so the strides being taken in recent times are significant and they will now look to continue that progress when they host Bristol at The Rec on Friday.

That’s a fixture that will be broadcast live on TNT Sports and by way of hyping things up, Hogg caught up with his former club and country teammate two days before the kick-off and the impression he took away from their midweek catch-up should have the rest of the Premiership on red alert.

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“I’ve just spent the morning with Finn and he seems to be really relaxed, chilled out even more so now he is closer to home,” explained Hogg when he checked in later on Wednesday with RugbyPass over the phone.

“He is a dad, he is really adapting to family life, he is more mature and more excited today than I have ever seen which is a scary, scary thing for people involved in the Premiership to be on the receiving end.

“Bath are very fortunate and lucky to have a player like Finn. He will make a massive difference on and off the field. He will start to build a game plan that suits him and also the players he has got – he has got some quality talent around him.

“Ollie Lawrence I believe is one of the best centres in the Premiership playing outside him and Ben Spencer has been incredible at nine throughout the best part of a decade in the Gallagher Premiership, so he has got some class players around him.

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“Last week you saw the difference in one split moment on the 60-minute mark, a penalty five yards right at the posts, pretty much smack bang in the middle, easiest three points to pick up but they had the confidence and belief to go and attack and they ended up getting a bonus point try on the back of that which is huge.

“The whole momentum (of a contest that was poised 24-20 before that penalty gamble) swung in their favour after that one period of play and they scored a couple of tries after that as well.

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“These moments where you could potentially take the easy three and start again, that whole mindset has had a shift, has had a change, and Bath are backing their ability which is great to see. I wouldn’t be writing them off.”

Russell arrived in the Premiership off the back of a difficult World Cup where Scotland were eliminated at the pool stage. Has the slick way the out-half quickly got up to speed with the tempo of the league in England surprised Hogg?

“It was never in doubt, never in doubt. He’s a class act, a world-class talent who is really making a difference already in this Bath side. For years, the Premiership has had some box-office players. We have had (Charles) Piutau, (Semi) Radradra, many, many players and now we have got Finn Russell and Virimi Vakatawa involved in the Premiership. It’s absolutely massive.

“From a Bath point of view, they have been coming with something good the past year or so, a very, very difficult side to play against.

“Now I believe Finn Russell is the missing piece of the puzzle. There is a good old saying that you are only as good as your last game and last weekend, Bath with Finn Russell playing at 10, were incredible.

“They knocked over a good Gloucester side with a record away win which speaks volumes. Whether they will be there or thereabouts this season is something we will have to look at in a few weeks’ time but here and now I wouldn’t be writing them off to be top four.”

  • Watch Bath vs Bristol exclusively live on TNT Sports 1 and discovery+ from 7pm on Friday, November 17. Stream the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Derby Weekend live on discovery+ or watch on TNT Sports channels on BT, Sky and Virgin Media. This isn’t Just Rugby, This is Personal. For more info visit: tntsports.co.uk/rugby
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1 Comment
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Alan 217 days ago

Still don’t know what the scary, scary thing is. Dopey headline.

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