Scotland stand-off Finn Russell insists the thought of leaving Scotstoun never crossed his mind and he now wants to help Glasgow become the No 1 club in Europe after signing a three-year contract extension.
The 23-year-old from Stirling has gone from working as an apprentice stonemason and playing for Falkirk just four years ago to becoming Vern Cotter’s first-choice No 10, making 15 appearances for the national team since his debut last summer.
His rising profile will have attracted interest, as his club coach Gregor Townsend accepted yesterday, but the player said his future at the Guinness Pro12 champions was never in doubt.
“I didn’t look at any other options, I am happy at the club and we are going in the right direction,” said Russell at Scotstoun yesterday.
“It is brilliant to sign for three years and have some security. I am settled here and delighted.”
Russell has just returned from the World Cup, where he played in four of five games, including the dramatic 35-34 loss to Australia in the quarter-finals.
“I think I have got over the World Cup now,” he said. “A few days after I had put it behind me and was focused on the next thing and getting back to training with the Warriors today.”
With national service now on hold until the Six Nations, Russell is relishing pulling on a Warriors shirt again soon and continuing the project of building something special in Glasgow, with the start of the European Champions Cup campaign in a couple of weeks clearly on his radar.
He said: “I want to take the experience I have gained over the last couple of years and really build on it. I am still a young player, I have only played 32 games for Glasgow. I have gained loads of experience and as a club we have targets for the next three years. As a club, our target is to be the number one club in Europe. We just want to get out of the pool in Europe and really go from there.”
Townsend has clearly been a major influence on Russell and he said: “What I really like about Finn is that he is a really quick learner. He has got that composure and confidence when he plays the game but he takes in information and you see the transfer pretty quickly.
“He is new to playing professional rugby, it is only a year and a half, but he has quickly adapted to playing an all-round game, using his strength, his attacking and running game that he has, but also manipulating defences. He has realised that kicking can be a really positive thing for the team.”
The coach added: “Confidence is a big part of playing in that [stand-off] position. You have to stand up there and make a couple of hundred decisions during the game, you have to make your tackles against big men running at you and you have to be willing to make mistakes so you can learn off them. He is a really quick learner.”
Townsend pointed to the benefits of the John Macphail Scholarship in 2013, on which Russell travelled to New Zealand for a summer of training and playing in Canterbury.
“In many ways Finn is a late developer,” explained Townsend. “He worked as a stonemason, left a club [Stirling County] to play at a lower level at stand-off.
“He has had some life experience, one of the best being going to New Zealand, living on his own and playing really well in a different environment and now he has to build on what he has done so far.
“The other part I have not mentioned is that he is a real team leader. He is very confident and when he plays his games, he has to bring those around him in with him and make sure that he is planning his games with a coach’s mindset. I am sure his experience in the World Cup will have helped him a lot.”
Glasgow announced another three-year deal yesterday, with ScottishPower announcing a “six-figure” sponsorship deal with the club. The utility company will feature in back-of-shirt branding and also work with the Warriors to develop a community youth programme in the west of Scotland.
The Glasgow team to face Ospreys at Scotstoun on Sunday will be named today.