Disappointed Finn Russell lifts lid on his Scotland future

Finn Russell’s latest World Cup disappointment has not dented his enthusiasm to play for Scotland as the talismanic stand-off declared he has no intention of making himself unavailable for the national team any time soon.

The 31-year-old was devastated to lose in the pool stages of the French Open in October for the second time in a row, but he told the PA news agency that he still had the same passion to wear the dark blue shirt.

When asked if his World Cup experience had made him less of an appetite for international rugby, he responded, “No, not at all.”

“If anything, it’s piqued my interest in playing for the national team again and trying to win some games and get a few more wins.”

Russell, who is only a few months younger than the former full-back, took a break from rugby in the summer after another Scotland star Stuart Hogg, who retired at the age of 31, aims to still be operating at a level that allows him to go to his fourth World Cup in 2027.

The fly-half, who recently joined Bath following five years in France with Racing 92, will turn 35 a week before the showpiece in Australia begins.

“Hopefully,” he said. “Age-wise, I’ll be able to make that. It’s just about whether or not I’m playing well enough, so hopefully I am. I’ve got no inclination to finish up any time soon internationally.”

This year’s World Cup, in which Scotland were well beaten by South Africa and Ireland, cut deep for Russell.

Instead of taking a holiday immediately afterwards, he chose to throw himself straight into club rugby with new side Bath, making his debut as a substitute against Newcastle just a week after the demoralising defeat by the Irish.

However, he has been in communication with head coach Gregor Townsend as one of Scotland’s vice captains to analyze the competition in order to make improvements for the forthcoming Six Nations.

“I didn’t have the opportunity to reflect on it as much as others might have because I came right into something new after the World Cup,” he remarked. But that seems OK to me. It’s something you think about occasionally.

“I spoke with Gregor over the phone to discuss how we might have performed better at the World Cup, how we could grow, and how we could utilize it as a teaching moment for the squad as a whole.

“We were both chatting about how we thought the World Cup went, where we can grow and develop from it, how we can get better as a team and us both as individuals – me as a player and him as a coach.

“It wasn’t like we were blaming each other or anything like that, it was just a good conversation to get us going in the right direction.

“The style of rugby we’re playing is very exciting and we’re scoring tries but obviously against Ireland in particular we had a disappointing result.

“I’m excited for the Six Nations to come around and try to achieve something, but we’ll have to address a few things from the World Cup that didn’t go as planned and we’ll have to grow as a group and get better.”

Russell is doing well for himself. He and his young family have had “a very easy transition” to living in Bath during the past several months after spending five years in Paris.

The stand-off feels healthy and in good form after starting seven of the previous eight games for the Gallagher Premiership team.

“I’m feeling good,” he said, speaking ahead of Saturday’s Champions Cup trip to Cardiff. “I came straight back after the World Cup and played the next week so I didn’t have a week to dwell on the World Cup.

“I just wanted to get on to the next thing and get a new focus straight away.

“After a few games, I had a week off and went to New York with my partner so it was nice to get away and relax.

“Even though the World Cup was frustrating, it’s been good to get back in here and get some good results.

“It’s been a new challenge with a new team and I’m feeling fresh.

“I’ve settled in very smoothly, easily, quickly, which has been brilliant and rugby-wise we’ve been playing well. So far, so good. I’m enjoying it.”

Russell is expected to be involved in a third British and Irish Lions tour, in addition to the usual club and national matters. The Scottish superstar visited South Africa in 2021 and New Zealand in 2017, and he is expected to be considered for another tour in Australia the summer after next. “It’s something I know is coming up and it will be at the back of my mind but my main focus for now is doing as well as I can with Bath and Scotland and then we’ll get to the Lions when it comes round,” he stated.

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