Gavin Hastings wants Finn Russell to take inspiration from Owen Farrell to eradicate the “woefully bad” performances that will make him a major target for England in Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash at Murrayfield.
Russell is a mercurial talent but poor showings in the defeat by Wales and 32-26 win over France have raised serious questions over his ability to deliver consistently at the highest level.
Hastings, the former Lions and Scotland captain, said: “ There is a big debate here about Finn Russell and he came onto the scene and was very exciting but in the last two matches in the Six Nations he hasn’t produced great performances and as a result people are getting on his back a wee bit. He is a talented player and if he can work out when to have a go and we have seen with Owen Farrell that he has become World class after a number of years at test level. He was a bit of a hot head when he started out and now he has brought a huge maturity to his game .
“When Finn does good things he delivers them better than any No10 in the game and he can also be woefully bad as he has been in the last couple of games. His natural desire is to have a go and he needs to curb that and do some of the basics as well as anybody and he has that capability. “
Farrell, who is expected to be named at centre tomorrow after battling to overcome leg injury which has restricted his training this week, had to struggle control his temper when he burst onto the test scene and this dragged him out of the defensive line and made him easy to wind up. Now, he has brought World class control to both his temper and his game having won 55 caps and played in four Lions tests.
Hastings wants the Scots to deliver the kind of performances he witnessed in the 22-17 loss to New Zealand and a 53-24 thumping win over Australia during the Autumn tests and sees full back Stuart Hogg as the trigger for the team’s attack as he offers more threats than opposite number Mike Brown.
He explained:” Stuart Hogg is one of those players that gets the fans on the edge of their seats or out of them and he is old school, running with the ball in two hands. He uses it like a balancing technique and has extraordinary pace and he is another player who is in the Finn Russell mould and wants to have a go. Mike Brown has a bit of the Brian Moore about him – he loves getting in people’s faces. I can understand why Eddie Jones likes him because he is one of those players who has the capacity to wind up the opposition.
“I cannot see how Scotland would even contemplate getting into an arm wrestle with England and their only chance is to chuck the ball around and use their natural running instincts when they have good field position.
We now need to go up to another level, however, England are a very efficient rugby machine.”