Russell keen to get stuck in to ABs

Date published: November 13 2014

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A year after playing club rugby in New Zealand, Scotland fly-half Finn Russell is preparing to face the All Blacks in a Test.

A year after playing club rugby in New Zealand, Scotland fly-half Finn Russell is preparing to face the All Blacks in a Test.

Russell was a member of Canterbury Rugby Football Union’s International High Performance Unit (IHPU) in 2013 and represented the Lincoln University club at weekends.

Under IHPU boss John Haggart, who is a former Otago fly-half, and his coaching staff’s guidance Russell delivered several superb performances for Lincoln University and upon his return to Scotland he has become Glasgow Warriors’ first-choice pivot and made his Test debut against the USA in June.

The 22-year-old values his New Zealand experience greatly and believes it has helped him to improve as a player.

“It was a really good standard of rugby for a non-professional league,” Russell told Fairfax Media.

“It was the way they played, expansive rugby and a really, fast flowing game.

“It was brilliant to play, not so much fun when you are defending against it, but good to be playing with the ball.”

New Scotland boss Vern Cotter, who was an assistant to Crusaders coach Robbie Deans in 2005 and 2006, has urged his players to shake off their conservative habits and they were rewarded with a Argentina 41-31 victory over Argentina last weekend.

“It was brilliant being over there playing the style of rugby that they play, and that has helped because Vern likes to play that sort of expansive, open game,” added Russell.

“Three months over there really brought me on and gave me that extra bit of confidence.”

Russell watched New Zealand thrash France 30-0 in Christchurch last year – an experience which left a lasting impression on him.

“I guess you could see the passion in the players but what it means to the actual country as well,” he explained.

“The players almost reflect how much it means to the crowd and that’s what they bounce off each other.

“That’s brilliant and that’s kind of what we have here, almost, the crowd give us so much energy when we are playing.”

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