Wales v Scotland: hosts have a plan to neutralise Finn Russell threat

Finn Russell at training with Scotland. Image: © Craig Watson -
Finn Russell at training with Scotland. Image: © Craig Watson -

WALES have singled Finn Russell out for special attention ahead of their Guinness Six Nations match in Llanelli on Saturday, according to recalled wing Liam Williams.

Russell returns to the Scotland starting line-up for the first time since the World Cup, and will equal Gregor Townsend’s 49 starts in the number 10 jersey, second to only Craig Chalmers (55) as Scotland’s most caps at stand-off. He made a big impact off the bench against Georgia last weekend, and though doubts persist in some quarters that he can be too erratic in such a key decision-making role, few will argue that he is one of the most dangerous playmakers in the world on his day.

Wales, meanwhile have made six changes from the side that lost to France in Paris last Saturday, with Williams replacing George North on the wing, and joining fellow British and Irish Lions Dan Biggar, Jonathan Davies and Leigh Halfpenny in the back division.

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And the Scarlets wing admitted that his team have been making special preparations to stop Russell.

“Finn is a very clever player, isn’t he?” he said. “He’s a good ball player, he’s a good footballer and he’s got loads of tricks up his sleeve, so we’ve been working on little things all week.

“We’ll have to try and keep him in his box.”

Williams will line up against Blair Kinghorn, who has been preferred on the left wing to Duhan van der Merwe despite the latter making a try-scoring Scotland debut last weekend. The 29-year-old said he is ambivalent as to who his opposite number is.

“I haven’t looked much into them to be honest, as long as my house is in order, I’m happy to play against anyone,” he stated. “Scotland have always had a good back three, especially with Stuart Hogg in there, and I’m sure the weather is going to play a part this weekend.

“It’s going to be a big aerial battle. We didn’t play too well aerially out in France, so it’s a big test for us and a big work-on for us this week.

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“The France game was about getting back into the feel of international rugby and the boys had a good blow-out last weekend, but this week is what matters.

“A win is definitely what we need and what we are aiming for.”

Current Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones will also break Richie McCaw’s world caps record when he makes his 149th international appearance at Parc y Scarlets, but Williams insisted that Wales won’t need to use that milestone as motivation as they look to address a three-game losing streak.

“Alun is going to be breaking the world record for caps, but that’s for him individually, you can’t see that as an advantage for us as a team,” he said. “It looks an incredible achievement, but for this weekend, we’re going to win – or we’ll try to win – for our country, for ourselves and for everyone else. That’s what we want to do first and foremost.”

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Gavin Harper
About Gavin Harper 3 Articles
Gavin is a freelance journalist and former Editor of SCRUM Magazine. After graduating from Edinburgh Napier University, during which time he won a Scottish Student Journalism Award for 'Best Sport Story', he began his career as a Senior news and sports reporter at the East Lothian Courier. After an 18-month spell as Editor of SCRUM Magazine, he now provides rugby content to a number of newspapers, magazines and websites. Twitter: @Gav_S_Harper

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