Scotland stand-off Finn Russell is targeting European glory when he joins French giants Racing 92 next season and said he “can’t wait to be there”.
The 25-year-old confirmed earlier this month he will be leaving Glasgow when his contract runs out in May and, while it was well known that Racing 92 were to be his destination, it was set in stone yesterday as the playmaker gave an interview for the club’s website.
Russell has been a key figure in Scottish rugby’s recent renaissance and at the weekend he produced another world-class display as Scotland stunned Australia 53-24.
With All Blacks legend Dan Carter announcing he will be leaving Racing for Japan in the summer, Russell will vie for the No 10 light blue and white hooped jersey with Springbok Patrick Lambie and playing in the state-of-the-art indoor U Arena, where Racing will play their first match next month.
“I had the chance to play six seasons in Glasgow but for me, for my progress, I felt it was time to change the environment,” Russell told www.racing92.fr
“Like any rugby player my goal is to win, I want to win titles with Racing. It is a club determined to play as many finals as possible and win.. and who are likely to do it.
“It’s really my main goal, and Racing has all the potential to get the [European] Champions Cup or TOP 14 [French championship].
“I can’t wait to help them win. It’s a great club, I’m looking forward to settling down and playing with my new team-mates as well as working with the coaches and all the staff.”
The SRU’s stated policy is to keep as many players in Scotland as possible so they can be monitored and managed for the best interests of the national team but, while there may be disappointment that such a vital player is now outwith that control, there is no doubting that the big money move, reported to be as much as £700,000 a season, is a huge opportunity for Russell to establish himself as one of the world’s star players.
SRU chief executive Mark Dodson said last week: “Good luck to him, he’s a super player. There’s no recriminations from us.
“He’s been great value. He’s a superstar so let him go and earn superstar money.”
Russell has been visiting his future club during a rest period following his efforts with Scotland in the autumn series..
“It’s a crazy environment, there is everything here. Cryotherapy, massages ... the facilities are incredible,” he said. “I can’t wait to be there and test everything. I also visited the U Arena, which is really impressive, it will be great to play there.”
Russell, who now has 32 caps for Scotland and had an injury-cover cameo on the Lions tour, outshone Carter on the two occasions he faced him for Glasgow in Europe last season but said that the Kiwi’s future had not been a factor in his decision to move to Paris.
“I did not really think of Dan’s departure, I thought maybe he would still be there, I would have learned a lot from him,” he said.
Asked if he knew any French, Russell replied: “Bonjour, ca va….I will take classes to learn as much as possible before arriving.”