Finn Russell: The Real Scotland
One week on from arriving in Japan, we caught up with Finn Russell about his role in the Scotland squad and how preparations are going in Nagasaki.
On Rugby World Cup 2019…
“I’m excited to be at the world cup. Our Six Nations was a bit up and down but for the last few years since the last world cup we’ve put in a few great performances.
“I think on our day if we turn up, get things right and play to the best of our ability then I we’re capable of getting out of our group.
“From there it’s knockout rugby, which you take game by game.”
Injuries impacted the Six Nations, but you seem at full strength now. Is this the real Scotland we’re seeing?
“It should be. This is the main stage, it’s the world cup, it’s the biggest tournament in rugby so if it’s not the real Scotland then it’ll be disappointing for all of us.
“For me – and the rest of the team I imagine – we’re here to do a job and put in our best performance. If we stay injury free, then well be a great position to do that.”
How frustrating was the Guinness Six Nations given the setbacks you endured?
“The majority of games were in two halves [in terms of the team’s performance].
“The Italy game was great but in the last 15 minutes we let in three tries. We had a good first half against Ireland and, although we were a few points down, we were playing really well but slipped off. Then the England game was obviously the same but the other way around.
“It was frustrating that we never really managed to put in an 80-minute performance. In the world cup you’re playing the best teams in the world, so you have to put 80-minute performances in week after week.
“Mentally I think we’re in the right head space to put in these types of performances.”
Can you take any belief from the performances against England and Georgia away in the context of the team’s form on the road?
“I think we can, plus everyone’s away from home apart from Japan, who are obviously in our group.
“in the warm-up games there weren’t many nations that won away from home apart from Ireland who beat Wales down there [in Cardiff]. Everyone pretty much won their home games and lost the away games.
“None of us are used to the conditions here so it’ll be challenging for us all, so I’m not really looking at these as away games. The only away game we’ve got is Japan.”
How are you feeling in yourself – you went well against Georgia in Tbilisi?
“Yeah, I’m just excited to get out there. We had a couple of warm-up games, played well as a team – which is alright – but that was three weeks away from the first world cup Test.
“You might have played well then, but a lot can happen in the three weeks in between. I’m just looking to make sure I’m in the same mindset and the same space I was for those games.”
How have you changed as a player since the last world cup and, latterly, your time in France?
“Four years ago, I’d have been playing international rugby for a year and professional rugby for a year and a half, so it’s slightly different to now.
“I’m a lot more experienced and the game’s moving so quickly just now, so as players we’re trying to adapt and go with the flow.
“Kicking is becoming more of a factor in games, not in a boring way but in an attacking or tactical way depending on how defences are set up – kicking through or over.”
He added: “My game management has come on a lot since the last world cup.
“Some people say it [being a leader in the team] is an extra weight on your shoulders but I don’t mind that. I don’t over think things. I’m pretty chilled out but I’m happy enough to say what’s best for the team and what we need to do.
“I’m happy to put my point across as one of the more experienced guys. People are looking at you and expecting that and I’m happy doing it.
“It won’t always be right but between the group of us we get it right quite often.”
Have you bulked up a bit?
“I’m actually the same weight. I think I’ve just lost a bit of fat. I came back about four kilos lighter after the summer.
“I’m not the kind of player who’d get too big. I notice, as the season goes on, I get a little bit chubbier because I do less weights and training.
“This pre-season has been tough, but I think I’m in good shape just now going into the world cup.
“It’s good being here working with the guys [S&C coaches].
“We’ve got great programmes but we also have really good relationship with them so we can give feedback on what we think is best for us.”