Finn Russell has no early retirement plans as Scotland talisman discusses Stuart Hogg exit

Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell know each other very well from club and country.Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell know each other very well from club and country.
Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell know each other very well from club and country.
Finn Russell says he has no intention of following Stuart Hogg into early retirement and is already looking ahead to the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

Russell, 30, will be a key player for Scotland in this year’s tournament which begins in France on September 8 and is likely to have his first outing of the season on Saturday when the host nation visit Murrayfield in the first of two warm-up Tests between the sides.

Hogg, Scotland’s record try-scorer, had intended to hang up his boots after the World Cup but announced in early July that he was retiring with immediate effect because he felt his body could no longer withstand the rigours of the sport at the highest level.

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Hogg and Russell have been Scottish rugby’s star attractions for the past decade and are great friends but the stand-off believes he can go on a lot longer. Asked if 31-year-old Hogg’s decision had made him more conscious of time catching up on him, Russell said: “Nah, not at all. I’ve still got another two [World Cups] in me I reckon! I’m only 30. The way Hoggy played he was different as a full-back to me as a number 10. So I’m not looking at this World Cup as my last, it’s just the next one.”

Russell, who has signed a deal to join Bath next season after five years in Paris with Racing 92, added: “I’ve got three years at Bath so that will take me not far away from the next World Cup and then I’ll see at that time.”

The forthcoming World Cup will be Russell’s third. He had Hogg alongside him at the tournaments in 2015 and 2019 and acknowledged that the full-back’s absence will leave a big hole to fill, in terms of both his ability and personality. But he doesn’t think it will put more pressure on him and also believes it provides an opportunity for others to step into the limelight, notably the other back-three players such as Blair Kinghorn, Duhan van der Merwe and Darcy Graham.

“I wouldn’t say there was any added pressure,” said Russell. “Hoggy was obviously very high profile – more so than me – and it is different without him in camp, but at the same time it gives other boys the chance to step up like Blair has done, putting that hand up to be the next guy in the full-back jersey. Duhan has made a great name for himself during the last couple of years with the Lions and in the most recent Six Nations, and wee Darcy is back scoring two tries at the weekend, so I wouldn’t say it puts any more pressure on me, it just gives some of the other boys a chance to get some TV time.

“I’ve played against Hoggy since I was seven or eight years old at club level and then we got to know each other really well at Glasgow. We played a lot together there and here with Scotland and he became a really good mate of mine. Although other boys bring other things, not having Hoggy here does feel very different. What will I miss most? Definitely his teeth and hair and taking the p*** out of him for that.”