Hard to dislodge Finn Russell from the No 10 jersey now, admits Gregor Townsend

Gregor Townsend praised the performance of Finn Russell as Scotland ended their autumn campaign with a thumping 52-29 win over Argentina at Murrayfield.

The stand-off had a hand in all eight tries scored by the home side and the coach admitted it would take something special to dislodge him from the No 10 jersey at next year’s Six Nations.

Russell was surprisingly left out of Townsend’s initial squad for the four-match autumn series and was only called up after Adam Hastings was injured during the second game. Blair Kinghorn started the opener against Australia at stand-off, then Hastings got the nod against Fiji before Russell was brought in from the cold to face New Zealand and Argentina.

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“He’s now the man in possession and he’s played really well the last two weeks, so it will take something from Blair and Adam to change that,” said Townsend.

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“I thought Finn was really good out there and there were parts of his game that don't get talked about a huge amount. I said to him in the changing room he had three tackles in a row in the first half and showed his competitiveness there.

“He worked out that the defence was rushing up on his outside and he took the space that left. He had a very good carrying game and a really good fend and offload, and that created linebreaks. And the little kick through in the second half was the right thing to do and created a try for Cam [Redpath].

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“His passing skills are up there with the best in the world and maybe we expect that, those great passes, but they led to good opportunities. A very good display.”

Russell, the man of the match, said: “Most people would see on the pitch that I am enjoying myself, I am smiling all the time. I am having fun with the boys. We are running some good tries in and it’s great to be a part of that. It’s great to be back.”

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Finn Russell's ability to offload under pressure was key to Scotland's win over Argentina. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

It was a dizzying, crazy game at times. Argentina had flanker Marcos Kremer sent off, and there were a further three yellow cards for the tourists. Scotland also lost Jamie Ritchie and Sione Tuipulotu to the sin-bin but showed composure to rack up the points and score over 50 against the Pumas for the first time in a Test. Darcy Graham scored a hat-trick and there was a double for Tuipulotu and single scores for Duhan van der Merwe, Cam Redpath and Stuart Hogg.

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Townsend was pleased to end the year on a winning note and believes Scotland can go into next year’s Six Nations and Rugby World Cup with confidence.

“We’re a match for anyone and I think we’ve shown that,” said the coach. “But world rugby is so competitive. The week after we lost to Australia by a point, they lose in Paris by a point and they were leading for most of the game.

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“England lost to Argentina, Argentina lost to Wales and then Wales lost to Georgia. So it is a moment for a team to come through. And for us, there is no better time to do that than next year with the Six Nations and a World Cup.”

Scotland's Finn Russell with his man of the match award. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

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