Forwards coach John Dalziel is adamant that the ongoing furor surrounding Finn Russell’s absence from the squad has no negative impact on the Scottish autumn series.
Over the past two weeks there has been intense debate over Gregor Townsend’s controversial decision not to select the Racing 92 opening half, with the coach citing “form and consistency” as the reason for his omission before the defeat for 16-15 against Australia.
Russell, widely regarded as one of Scotland’s most gifted players, has shone in each of his last two games for his club and former captain John Barclay said on Tuesday that the “outside noise” around number 10 is “adding to all of the crowd. ‘increased pressure’ on Townsend and his team.
“Nothing internally,” Dalziel said, dismissing the notion that Russell’s saga has an impact on the team. “There is a lot of pressure accompanying international rugby all the time.
“Certainly playing at home there is enormous pressure on us. We want to win, we want to impress the support we receive that fills the stadium from time to time.
“We are very happy, we know the areas to improve and we have three more home games. (Losing to) Australia hurts, it could have gone either way in the end, but the pressure comes with the job. None of this has affected the boys, we are focused, we have a good culture in the squad and we are ready to recover this weekend ”.
Dalziel acknowledged that the Scottish crowd would like to see Russell restored to the squad and paid tribute to the fact that the opening half had played well in recent weeks without giving any indication that he would be recalled.
“I know Gregor and Finn talk regularly,” he said. “They had a good conversation about the composition of the team and the reasoning of the original team.
“It’s nice to see the last two weekends, he played so well. She reacted exactly the right way. “
Russell’s absence upped the ante on Blair Kinghorn, who took over at number 10. The Edinburgh player had a mixed afternoon against Australia on Saturday when he scored a superb solo try before missing a penalty. to the last breath from 40 meters that would have won the game for the Scots.
“Blair is an excellent professional,” Dalziel said. “He Works harder than anyone else.
“As for the last moment of the game, that’s what you leave with, but as for the rest of the game there were many other areas of the game that influenced a lot of things.
“Blair recovered quickly, immediately understood what he had to do technically best with football, and worked on it with Chris Paterson as he does every day.
“He’s a really resilient guy, he’s had great moments and we’ve seen he’s capable of those with proof. He repeats it regularly. He is always a bit of a common thread around the place.
Scotland took another hit in the second row when Sam Skinner withdrew from the squad with a foot injury a week after blocking mate Scott Cummings was forced to quit with a broken toe.
Edinburgh’s Jamie Hodgson has been called up for Saturday’s home test against Fiji, while Richie Gray is ready to return after missing the match in Australia due to concussion protocols.
“Sam has a small fracture in the bone caused by the tendon tear,” Dalziel said. “It probably looks like this campaign is over. We believe it will take four to six weeks to heal ”.