Scotland's Finn Russell knows nothing but his best will do against Ireland

Scotland's Finn Russell knows nothing but his best will do against Ireland

Finn Russell is excited about the challenge that lies ahead against Ireland, as he knows he can't afford to put a foot wrong when the two sides meet in Paris on Saturday night.

The talismanic flyhalf carries the hopes of a nation on his shoulders going into this weekend's qualification shootout against the world's top-ranked side.

Gregor Townsend's Scots require either a bonus-point victory or to deny their opponents a losing bonus if they are to emerge from Pool B and reach the quarter-finals.

For that to happen, Russell - widely deemed to have entered his prime over the past year - knows he will have to make his mark in the French capital on Saturday as he bids to upstage his veteran Irish counterpart Johnny Sexton.

Asked if he feels he is currently in the best form of his career, the 31-year-old said: "I'm going to have to be this weekend!

"I don't know. I think I had a good couple of years, then a year where I was a bit off after the Lions tour in 2021, but I think I've come back from that now.

"Gregor thinks I'm coming into my peak as a 10. I think this is a good age to be at where I'm still young enough but I've got a lot of experience behind me, so that bodes well for a 10.

"I think I'm playing some decent rugby just now and I just need to make sure I'm ready for what comes at the weekend.

"I'm against Johnny Sexton, one of the best 10s in the world as well, so it's going to be tough."

Less than a year ago, Russell's place at the World Cup appeared in jeopardy when he was left out of the initial squad for the autumn internationals amid tension with Townsend, before being recalled midway through the series in November to hugely impressive effect.

The coach and talisman also had a well-documented fall-out in early 2020 but they appear to have finally found a genuine sense of harmony since Russell's recall almost 11 months ago.

The player reported that their relationship remains in good order amid the intensity of a World Cup campaign.

"Yes, it's been good," he said. "I think that's all behind us now, thankfully.

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"That's been 11 years I've worked with Gregor now so to have a couple of bumps in the road is not that bad.

"We're both on the same page, as we have been all summer, and throughout the Six Nations.

"It's just about making sure we continue on this journey we're on and try to get the win at the weekend."

As well as being the team's outstanding talent, Russell is also now one of Townsend's vice-captains.

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The Bath-bound fly-half is relishing the responsibility of leading the Scots into one of their biggest games in years.

"I think for me to be able to manage the boys and try to keep us on track throughout the week and in the game is going to be really important," he said.

"It's easy to say it's just another week but it's not because it's knockout rugby now for us.

"There will be a little bit more pressure but I've been in this situation before with Scotland where we've had knockout games and other big games."

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