Russell-Townsend relationship in a 'better place' before Autumn Nations Cup return

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Finn Russell (Getty Images)
Finn Russell (Getty Images)

Scotland's Finn Russell said his relationship with head coach Gregor Townsend has improved since the influential flyhalf missed the Six Nations after the pair fell out and hopes to play in the Autumn Nations Cup.

Russell, 27, who won the last of his 49 Test caps during last year's Rugby World Cup, said they had continued to speak since making amends during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're in a much better place than it was which is great. If selected I'm looking forward to getting back in there. So hopefully in a few months I'll be back in the Scotland camp," he told AFP on Monday 30 minutes after another conversation with Townsend.

"During lockdown we spoke once a month or every few weeks. When we were chatting about October games with what the plans would be with me being in France and things like that with complications," Russell said.

The Racing 92 playmaker, who is the Top 14's leading assist maker with three in two matches this season, said he would need an exemption to avoid a 14-day quarantine when returning home to prepare for the tournament later this year.

"Gregor mentioned there might be some different rules for sports players for travelling in and out. I'll have to see what the plan is with that," he said.

"We get tested every week over here so if I'm travelling back I'll just have to be very cautious on the flights with who I'm mixing with obviously," he added.

'Full-on' schedule

Townsend's men will face Italy, France and Fiji in the new competition, which replaced the cancelled autumn internationals, after finishing their postponed Six Nations campaign against Wales on 31 October.

Wayne Pivac's side are in a separate pool along with England, Ireland and Georgia, who have replaced Japan, with a playoff round on 5-6 December to decide the final rankings.

"I've had a quick look at how it will map out. It's going to be different to the usual November Tests but it will be good to play against different teams, get a few more games in there," he said.

"It will be full-on for the players, a lot of Test matches in a short period of time but it should be good," he added.

Russell, who signed a contract extension for an undisclosed length with Racing over the summer, is set to come up against club team-mates including Virimi Vakatawa, Camille Chat and Bernard Le Roux on Les Bleus duty later this year.

"We've not spoken about it. It's only recently the matches have come out so it's still very fresh, there's a lot of rugby to be played here first," he said.

"Like we saw with Japan who had to pull out because of Covid reasons, a lot can change but we all need to get in the teams first," he added.

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