Scotland superstar fly-half Finn Russell credited his stunning form to his repaired relationship with head coach Gregor Townsend.
The duo have had some past issues and misalignments that have seen Russell being omitted by Townsend. However, a phone call in November helped the two find an alignment.
Since then, Russell has looked at the peak of his powers, putting some brilliant performances in Scotland blue as he did in their 35-7 win over Wales. The playmaker insists he gets on better than ever with his coach.
“Before I came back in the autumn, Gregor called me on the Saturday or Sunday night,” the Racing 92 fly-half explained. “I said to him before I came back in that I’d like for me and him to chat through a few things, not in terms of the stuff outside rugby, more the rugby side of it.
“There were a few things I may not have been happy with, or he might not have been happy with.
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“It wasn’t a case of clearing the air; it was more about us getting back on the same page and being open and honest with each other as to where he is at mentally with his game plan and how he wants things to run, and me having my input and saying what I think as well.
“Me and Gregor are in a much better place now than where we were a year ago. We are on the same page, and I’m allowed to express myself. Not that I wasn’t before, but I think the way that me and Gregor are working together is really helping me.
“I think Gregor and I get on better than we ever have done before. It’s not just us chatting about rugby, him being the coach and me being the player. It’s more just us chatting away and getting to know each other. We are both on the same page now and have a good relationship.”
10 – Finn Russell has provided 10 try assists in 9 Test matches for @Scotlandteam since the start of 2022, more than any other player from a Tier 1 nation in that time; he is also the first Scotland player to register a hat-trick of assists in a @SixNationsRugby game. Playmaker. pic.twitter.com/KvQOJ9wiVx
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) February 11, 2023
Russell struggled with fatigue after the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour but is revitalised after becoming a father in November.
“If I’m happy and playing good rugby, I’ll enjoy myself off the field and vice-versa: if I’m happy and enjoying myself off the field, I’ll be playing good rugby,” he said. “Last year was a poor season for me.
“I was probably tired and fatigued and didn’t really change anything myself, whereas this year, partly because of my partner being pregnant, I’ve had to change my lifestyle and everything around that, and my rugby’s probably changed as well.
“There have been a few big differences in the last 12 months for me, and that’s probably helping me now.”
Russell was man-of-the-match against Wales as Scotland finally addressed their second-round hoodoo.
“It was really good, I played well,” he said. “I pretty much did my job as a 10, which is to make the other boys look good, to create these chances for them to finish off. It was the first game my daughter [Charley] was at. It was a special game for me because she was there for the first time, we got a great result, and I played quite well.
“When I wasn’t involved (for the first two autumn Tests), I missed it and wanted to get back in there so I’ve loved being back in camp. We’re playing good rugby but there’s still a lot more to come so it’s exciting times.”
Russell is likely to feature for Racing 92 in the Top 14 this weekend when they host Brive during the Six Nations fallow week. Scotland’s next task is the Six Nations clash with France in Paris on February 26.