Moving to Racing 92 has helped me 'control' my game - Russell

Finn Russell believes his move to Racing 92 has really benefitted his game

Scotland star Finn Russell believes his game has become more controlled since he moved to France in the summer - and he knows he will need every ounce of that control against South Africa this weekend.

The 26-year-old stand-off played well last Saturday as the Scots cranked things up a notch in the second half to see off Fiji 54-17.

On Saturday evening, the Boks will be back at BT Murrayfield looking to post their 10th victory in 11 outings there.

Russell, who moved from Glasgow Warriors to Racing 92 for the start of 2018/19, knows they will have to take their performance up yet another level to compete with the fifth best team in the world who arrive in Edinburgh having defeated France last week.

And the playmaker believes his game has come on in recent months and that he is ready for this test in his 39th international outing.

“I think it's just how it's panned out almost, that I have added a bit more control to my game,” Russell told TRU.

“Going to Racing has been great for me as a player because I have had to establish myself as a player at 10 and become the decision maker who controls the game.

“For me to go and establish myself there, well it has been great for my career. I've had to do it a few times before - learning a slightly different style of rugby and adapt to new situations – this time it has been good for me.

“The culture's been really good. It's kind of similar to Glasgow at Racing, all of the boys are really close like a family. For me, it's been easy to fit in and a lot of the boys speak good English as well.

“I'm trying to learn French, but being able to chat to them in English helps a lot. It's been easy to settle in and just worry about the rugby.

“For me as a rugby player I have been working hard on doing the basics well like passing and kicking so it makes it easier for the boys to feed off me.

“I am still settling in as a player and the guys are still getting used to me and the things I do that might have been more natural at Glasgow, but we are getting there.”

Despite enjoying his new life in Paris, Russell was “buzzing” to get back into camp with the Scotland squad ahead of the Fiji match.

And with old pal Greig Laidlaw inside him at nine and former Glasgow team mate Pete Horne outside him at 12 for the second week running against South Africa, he is excited to link-up with them again.

“Greig is just a quality rugby player who communicates well and makes it pretty easy for me as a 10,” he explained.

“Horney is great to have outside. He has great skills and he has played a lot at 10 before so he knows what a 10 wants - it is a good balance.

“He has a good left boot and he gives good options. That left boot can get us out of trouble and for me, it is easy working with all the backs because we have played a lot together, we all feed off each other and know what to expect.

“This will be a tough game. South Africa are obviously very dangerous and score a lot of tries from counter attack. They're very physical too.

“We'll have to get a balance on how much we throw the ball around. We will definitely go for it at times, but other times Greig, myself, Horney and Stuart Hogg will take the option to kick.

“As with every game you sometimes have to slow it down, stick a high ball up, give them a go and defend. It will depend on how the game unfolds, me and Greig will get feel for it.”

In the last few minutes against Fiji, there was a cameo appearance of the Adam Hastings-Russell 10-12 axis.

Many want to see more of it in the future, so what does Russell think? Hastings is on the bench this weekend and Russell explained: “It's up to Gregor [Townsend, head coach]. It also depends who you're playing against.

“Last weekend, Adam came on for 10 minutes at 10 and I moved to 12. I started at Glasgow playing 12 and with Scotland under-20s so it's easy for me to slide out there.

“When I play at 12 there is a bit less pressure, you have more time to organise things.

“I'm trying to help Adam out as much as possible. Yes, I'm competing against him [for the 10 shirt], but I'm going to help him as much as I can.

“I don't see him as the enemy and shut him out. I'm going to help him as much as possible.”

Scotland v South Africa is on Saturday, November 17 at 5.20pm

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