Scotland out-half Finn Russell has spoken out about the apparent breakdown in his relationship with head coach Gregor Townsend.
The 27-year-old was dropped from Scotland’s squad ahead of their Guinness Six Nations opener against Ireland earlier this month following a “breach of team protocol”.
While the Scottish Rugby Union have not specified when or if Russell will return, the Racing 92 out-half was left out of their squad for their Calcutta Cup Test against England and in an in-depth interview with the Sunday Times, Russell seemed to indicate that he will not return to the set-up for the immediate future.
It was alleged that the “breach of protocol” came after Russell failed to appear to training the morning after a night out but in the interview, he reveals that the problems go much deeper than that.
“If only it was about that one thing (the ‘bust-up’ in the team hotel). I want the best for Scotland and so I’ve questioned the environment to try and make it better.
“We (him and Townsend) have clashed quite a lot, him saying one thing and me saying another. It’s come to a point where I’m saying, ‘You can be you and I’m going to be me. That’s how this relationship is going to be’. Well, it’s not really a relationship.
“I believe we need change. We’re tracking along a road and it’s not been working for us, and it’s especially not been working for me.”
Russell continued to explain that, while he wants to represent his country again, until such change comes, he doesn’t think he will.
“I’m going to back myself to play for Scotland again at some point. It’s definitely going to happen. The way it’s going to happen is for me to go back to my club, play really well, be me and be happy.
“The current situation, set-up and environment, I don’t think I want to play in that. I don’t think it’s good for me as a person or as a player. I’ve felt like this for more than a year.
“I’d love to play for Scotland again because I love playing for my country. But until I see or feel the big changes that I need to get back to playing my best, it’s going to be very hard for me to do it.
“Just now, there’s no relationship, we don’t work at all together. For me just now, for my rugby and my health, I don’t think I can do it. It’s not as simple as, ‘Have two weeks off, come back and it will be fine’.”
For now, it appears as though 23-year-old Glasgow Warriors out-half Adam Hastings will continue in the number ten jersey for Scotland. They face Italy in the third round of the Six Nations in two week’s time.