Scotland have announced that fly-half Finn Russell will no longer participate in the team’s preparations for their Six Nations opener against Ireland after the player was disciplined for a breach of team protocol.
A statement which was released on the team’s official Twitter page reads as follows:
STATEMENT | Scotland team spokesperson: “Stand-off Finn Russell will play no further part in preparations for Scotland’s Six Nations opener against Ireland, having been disciplined for a breach of team protocol during the week’s camp in Edinburgh. He has returned to his club."
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) January 23, 2020
It’s understood that Russell had failed to comply with the protocol which was put in place by the team and head coach Gregor Townsend when the team met up on Sunday.
The Scottish squad are said to have been allowed a few drinks with each other on Sunday night ahead of the hard work that’s ahead of them in the coming week, however, Russell is thought to have not followed suit and ignored warnings from members of the Scotland team and staff to call it a night.
Russell’s breach of team protocol did not stop there and it has been widely reported that the Racing 92 player failed to report for training on Monday morning which subsequently led to the decision of Scotland to rule him out of selection for the Ireland game.
Russell was told that he was allowed to return to the camp on Thursday morning, however, the fly-half is said to have declined the opportunity to do so which has now left both player and country in a nightmare situation before the Six Nations tournament has even begun.
While there are still nine days until the 2020 Championship begins on the pitch, Scotland find themselves without their starting number 10 and arguably their most talented player. With that said, time will only tell whether Russell will even take part at all after it’s thought that he has now returned to France.
Finn Russell discipline breach – who can fill the Void?
With Russell out of the picture (for now.. Maybe), the spotlight is very much on what Gregor Townsend will do now to fill the void in his starting 15.
Glasgow Warriors’ Adam Hastings, who has been in outstanding form for his club this season would be the best and most obvious choice despite still being very young and only having 17 caps behind him to this point.
11 – Adam Hastings beat 11 defenders against the Dragons, no other fly half has beaten more than 8 defenders in a @PRO14Official match since Opta have recorded this data (since 2010-11). Battle. pic.twitter.com/ExJmxms1AI
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) October 2, 2018
Another option for Townsend could be moving Northampton Saints’ Rory Hutchinson from centre to the outside half position, a position he has played previously at youth level.
Whether Townsend decides to go with either Hastings or indeed moving Hutchinson to fly half remains to be seen, as he could possibly call on another option of a player who isn’t currently involved in the squad.
As mentioned above, the Six Nations is nine days away and Scotland are due to fly out to Spain for some pre-tournament training. But as if preparations for the Ireland game weren’t going to be tough enough as it was, then you can bet your bottom dollar, they have just become a lot tougher as Scotland are set to be without a key player in Finn Russell.
Ireland v Scotland – Saturday February 1. Aviva Stadium
“Main photo credit”