Finn Russell ready for Scotland return after making up with boss Gregor Townsend
Finn Russell is set to make his first Scotland appearance since the World Cup when Gregor Townsend’s team take on Georgia at Murrayfield on Friday night.
The Racing 92 player did not feature at all during this year’s Guinness Six Nations before it was put on hold by the coronavirus crisis after breaching team discipline with a late-night drinking session ahead of their opener with Ireland.
He later gave a newspaper interview in which he detailed the breakdown in his relationship with head coach Townsend but the pair have patched up their differences and Russell will look to win his 50th cap when he enters the fray for this week’s Test clash with the Lelos off the bench.
Russell was part of the Racing side which lost out narrowly to Exeter in Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup final but the triumphant Chiefs trio of Stuart Hogg, Jonny Gray and Sam Skinner are still down south as they prepare for Saturday’s Premiership final with Wasps, and will join up with Townsend’s team ahead of next week’s delayed Six Nations curtain-closer with Wales in Llanelli.
Newly qualified Edinburgh wing Duhan Van Der Merwe makes his Test debut, while Glasgow hooker Fraser Brown will lead out the team in Hogg’s absence after being named captain for the first time as he wins his 51st cap.
Warriors prop Oli Kebble could also make his first Test appearance if he is called off the bench.
Townsend said: “It’s been great to have the players back in camp and as coaches we’ve really enjoyed working with them again after the enforced break due to Covid-19.
“As we start our autumn series the game against Georgia provides a real test as a first-up match and we have taken the opportunity to select a side that reflects where our players are in terms of their game time this season, their current form, as well as the contributions they made during the Six Nations at the start of the year.
“It is a testament to the professionalism and hard work Fraser has given to Scotland in recent years that we have selected him as the captain and he will be well supported by (vice-captains) Jamie (Ritchie) and Ali (Price), who have grown as leaders over the past couple of seasons.
“Georgia have a new coaching group in place and will want to put down a marker for their own campaign so we have picked as strong a squad as possible to go up against what will be a very physical and motivated opponent.”