Scotland coach reveals Russell talks but no sign of Six Nations return for stand-off

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has been in “dialogue” with renegade stand-off Finn Russell but there is no indication of when or if the Racing 92 star will return to play any part in this Six Nations campaign.

Scotland centre Sam Johnson gets away from stand-off Adam Hastings during a training drill as Scotland begin their preparations for the Calcutta Cup. Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty
Scotland centre Sam Johnson gets away from stand-off Adam Hastings during a training drill as Scotland begin their preparations for the Calcutta Cup. Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty

Russell did not report to the Scotland training base in Edinburgh and does not feature 
in the 37-man squad named 
for Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash against England at BT Murrayfield.

Russell was excluded from the weekend’s opening 19-12 defeat to Ireland in Dublin for an alleged alcohol-related breach of team discipline just over two weeks ago, which saw him leave the team hotel and not turn up for training on the Monday.

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New assistant coach Steve Tandy, who has just joined Townsend’s backroom staff as defence specialist said: “Finn 
is not with us, I know Gregor has had some dialogue with him but Gregor is after a lot of cohesion which you have seen with the boys who have come in. He won’t be involved at the minute.

“All I know is there has been some dialogue. I don’t know anymore than that.”

That means 23-year-old stand-off Adam Hastings, who kicked all of Scotland’s points at the Aviva Stadium and posted an impressively composed performance, is set to retain the dark blue No 10 jersey for Saturday’s crunch clash with an England side smarting from their opening defeat in Paris and looking to take back the world’s oldest international trophy, which has 
been in Scottish hands since February 2018.

“I thought he played really well,” said Welshman Tandy of Hastings. “He played the way he has trained and the group around him responded to that.

“They have connected in how they have played and I thought Adam played really well having gone into a difficult environment in Dublin.

“He has to play his own game within the confines of how Scotland want to play and I thought he drove the team around the park really well.

“He defended pretty well to be fair to him and with regards to the weekend it’s more about what Scotland want to bring as opposed to what England will bring.”

The 37-man squad contains no changes from the initial training group named by Townsend last month, although Edinburgh flanker Magnus Bradbury has recovered from a thigh strain and tighthead prop Simon Berghan is back after having to be replaced by WP Nel on the bench in Dublin due to illness.

Ex-Ospreys assistant and interim head coach Tandy replaced Matt Taylor as the defence coach after Townsend’s long-standing lieutenant