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Russell remaining grounded

Scotland fly-half Finn Russell is keeping his feet on the ground as his overnight success story gains momentum.

From playing amateur rugby with Ayr to becoming first choice for Glasgow Warriors to winning his first international cap, all in less than three months, Russell's rise has been spectacular.

He produced a calm, collected performance against the United States last week that suggested there is a decent chance he may be the long-term answer Scotland have been desperately seeking in a problem position.

"Finn Russell; you would not think it was his first cap because he played with confidence and composure," was the way Vern Cotter, the Scotland coach, summed up the showing of the 21-year-old on his Test debut.

The secret, Russell revealed, was a naturally relaxed view which meant he did not let the occasion get to him too much.

"I sort of see every game as the same so I tried to make sure the circumstances did not get to me," he said. "I'm quite relaxed before a game and when I'm in the match I try not to get wrapped up in the moment.

"I felt I did that quite well at the weekend actually, considering it was my first cap. I try to treat every game the same, no matter who you are playing against."

It is an approach that has taken Russell from playing for Ayr in the middle of March - he had played a couple of games for Glasgow but was third choice at best - to a regular starting position within a month, playing in both the RaboDirect Pro12 semi-final and final, before Cotter came calling.

"Those games against Munster and Leinster were as high a level as I had ever played," he said.

"A Test match is obviously there as well, so it was quite intense, but after playing against Munster and Leinster I kind of had a feel for it."

His debut was made easier with the Scottish forwards on top in most departments, giving him time and space to call the shots, while having the experienced Greig Laidlaw inside him at scrum-half took a lot of the pressure away.

"The forwards were amazing in the scrum," Russell acknowledged. "In the conditions, they were outstanding and to have that sort of platform to play off is amazing for a 10.

"I had good go-forward ball straight away and you can't ask for much more than that.

"It was really good having Greig inside too. He is an experienced player and he has obviously played 10 as well. If I had any questions he would keep me right. It was kind of like having Chris Cusiter at Glasgow."

The task he has set himself is to try to repeat the performance against Canada, where he is unlikely to be given as easy a ride, and leave Cotter debating whether to allow him to go back to Scotland as originally planned or whether and take him with the squad travelling on the second half of the tour.


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