Scotland star Finn Russell says that his fallout with head coach Gregor Townsend has helped them have a better understanding of each other and ultimately improved their relationship.
Russell was omitted from Scotland’s Six Nations squad after “breaching team protocol” ahead of their tournament opener against Ireland.
Speaking on the Will Greenwood Podcast, the Racing 92 back says that his relationship with Townsend has actually improved since the incident and they are both learning to interact with each other in a positive way.
“It got blown out of proportion a little bit, that’s how it happens sometimes,” said Russell.
“Me and Gregor are chatting – we’re looking at some attack clips for the next time we are back in camp. Around the Six Nations, there was a lot of hype. For me, it’s done, we can move on from here. We are going to work better than we did before.
“I’ve worked with Gregor my whole career, almost eight years now. We didn’t have that relationship that we needed to get the best of each other.
“During a Six Nations, it’s not ideal obviously. It brought to light how we need to get better and work together in the future. Going forward, it will be better. It’s very open now.
“Hopefully in the future, it will be a different relationship and the way we interact with each other should be very good. He sent over some stuff for me to watch and have a think about for us to do when we are back in camp, and general things too about lockdown.
“The players that come into our game are from very different backgrounds. The way that the modern player interacts with the modern coach is going to be massive.”
It was widely reported that Russell’s refusal to cease drinking at the team hotel and his failure to turn up to training led to his omission.
However, Russell claimed with the Ireland game still two weeks away, he just wanted to switch off after an intense period of rugby.
“One Sunday night, I left camp and went to my parents’ house. I just needed to get away from everything. I’d played 13 games in a row, we’d just played Saracens that day, it was a massive European game,” added Russell.
“I went straight up to camp. It was two weeks until our next game. There was a lot of emotions going on. Me leaving camp was just me trying to switch off from it all.”
The 27-year-old agrees that protocols are put in place for a reason, but believes that there has to be some trust. “There are team rules and things, and you’ve got to abide by them, but when you’ve got time off, there has got to be some trust in the players that they can do what they’ve got to do, and be ready for whatever is going to happen the next day.
“It’s different for everyone. If you are married with kids, it’s going to be different to what some of the younger lads want to do to switch off from rugby.”
In the aftermath of the incident, Russell criticised Townsend in a hard-hitting Sunday Times interview, as he tried to give his side of the story.
“I wouldn’t take the article back. I might change the photo!” he says.
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