JOHN Beattie has backed Finn Russell to use the chastening experiences of his two games against Toulouse to take his game to the next level.
The 22-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise at Glasgow where he has gone from an EDP player and club contributor at Ayr, to starting at No 10 for both club and country inside 11 months.
So smooth has Russell’s rise been that the young playmaker’s admittedly harsh yellow card for a fairly tame tip tackle in Glasgow’s first encounter with Toulouse and the desertion of his normal deadly accuracy with the boot in the return leg at Scotstoun on Saturday, have come as something of a shock.
Yet former Scotland No 8 Beattie points out that this is all part of the learning process for the hugely talented Stirling man, who is only in his second season as a starter at Warriors.
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However, with Duncan Weir’s appearance against Guy Noves’ men adding some much-needed composure and accuracy with the boot, Beattie admits he will be fascinated to see if Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend sticks or twists when it comes to the playmaker’s position when Munster come calling on Guinness Pro12 business on Saturday.
“I don’t have any doubt that young Russell will pick himself up, dust himself down and be ready to go again for Munster. In rugby, every player has games where things don’t go as he would have hoped, but the sun still sets at night and rises in the morning and the most important thing is that Finn learns from the experiences of the last two games and moves on,” said Beattie.
“Because his rise to starting stand-off has been so swift, I think people forget he is only in his second full season as a professional, or, at least, a starting pro with Glasgow and, because his progress has been so smooth, it maybe will have come as a surprise to some people when there has been a bit of turbulence.
“When you factor in how well he did with Scotland in the autumn, then Finn Russell has done remarkably well when you consider he did not break through at Glasgow until the second half of last season.”
When it comes to Townsend’s looming selection stand-off dilemma for Saturday, Beattie admits he will be intrigued to see how the cards will fall.
He said: “Obviously, there will be a call there for Gregor to make and it will be interesting to see if he retains Russell or opts to start Weir against Munster. But the great thing for both these players is that Gregor was a 10 himself and has all that inside knowledge to draw on in making his decision. But he will have to factor in how well Weir did when he came on against Toulouse and how Russell has reacted over the week in training.”
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