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Clive Woodward backs Finn Russell to start for the Lions


“I would love Warren Gatland to send out a big message.”

Clive Woodward has backed Scotland fly-half Finn Russell to start at 10 for the Lions in their upcoming test series with the Springboks.

The former British and Irish Lions head coach implored Warren Gatland to focus on skills rather than physicality for their tour of South Africa and believes that picking Russell would be the best way to do so.

The Springboks won the 2019 Rugby World Cup through raw power, and while Woodward feels that the Lions can match their physicality he believes something more will be needed to get the better of South Africa.

Woodward backs Finn Russell to start for the Lions.

“I would love Warren Gatland to send out a big message to the South Africans and the rugby world. We are here to play, excite and wow fans across the globe.

“No more macho talk about defence, physicality, winning the territory battle with box-kicking — let’s talk about skill, pace and excitement. That’s what the Lions must be about.

“Of course they must match the Boks up front but I don’t think you are ever going to dominate the South African forwards.

“The Lions must find other innovative ways of winning and they should have a world-class back division based on attack, not defence and skill, not size,” Woodward wrote in the Daily Mail.

While the tour isn’t guaranteed to go ahead, a Lions team with Russell pulling the strings would certainly entertain fans all over the world.

‘England vs France will define test rugby.’

Meanwhile, Woodward predicted that the rivalry between France and England would “define test rugby” in the lead up to the next World Cup.

The French have massively improved under the stewardess of Fabien Galthie and Shaun Edwards and as the hosts of the next World Cup, they are certainly on the right track to becoming major contenders for the Webb Ellis Cup.

“This is the match (England vs France) and the rivalry that will define Test rugby in the lead-up to the World Cup in France 2023.

“France are already very good and will only get better. Their makeshift Third XV deserved to win at Twickenham last month.


“England have the players and the pack and there are talented youngsters queuing up but they must expand their game or they will continue to tread water.

“I would love to see Eddie Jones getting England to think outside the box.

“Rugby is waiting for a team and a coach to break the mould. Whoever does will reap huge rewards,” Woodward commented.

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