Scotland 'must kick on' under Gregor Townsend – Finn Russell
Scotland can “kick on” and build on the progress made under Vern Cotter when new head coach Gregor Townsend takes over, believes fly-half Finn Russell.
Cotter’s last Test of his three years in charge brought a bonus-point win over Italy at an emotional Murrayfield.
Russell is one of 13 Glasgow players, all familiar with Townsend’s methods, who have featured in this Six Nations.
“We have some tour games coming up and, with Gregor coming in, a lot of us know what to expect,” Russell, 24, said.
“I think it will be good for the boys to have a slightly different view of how he sees the game.
“We have got to kick on from here and progress as much as we can in the next few years.
“Although the coaches are changing, I’d imagine a lot of the team will stay the same.
“We have a good core of players and Gregor will bring new ideas in. It will still be a strong team and hopefully we will be able to build on that with Gregor.”
While events in Paris and Dublin meant Scotland ultimately finished in fourth place on points difference, Saturday’s victory ensured they won more games than they lost in a Six Nations campaign for only a second time – and the first since 2006.
They have also reached a highest-ever position of fifth in the world rankings, guaranteeing them a place among the top eight seeds for the 2019 World Cup when the draw is made in May.
The task of continuing that development falls to former Scotland fly-half Townsend, who led Glasgow to the Pro12 title in 2015.
He will take over at the end of the season, with a southern hemisphere tour, including a Test against Australia on 17 June, his first assignment.
Wing Tim Visser believes Scotland’s style will remain similar under the 43-year-old Borderer.
“If you look at the way Glasgow have played over the last couple of years, they play very exciting rugby – a lot of off-loading, a lot of backs play, it’s great to watch,” said the Harlequins flyer, who scored his 13th Test try against Italy.
“Hopefully, it will be quite a seamless transition to Scotland for Gregor. Vern has to move on, but Gregor will be trying to push it forward.
|Scotland in Six Nations – last four years (last three under Cotter)|
|2017||W 3 L 2||F 122 A 118||14|
|2015||W 2 L 3||F 122 A 115||11|
|2015||W 0 L 5||F 73 A 128||6|
|2014||W 1 L 4||F 47 A 138||4|
“Vern always wanted us to go out there and enjoy ourselves, to express ourselves. We’ve got an exciting back three and turned into a team that can score tries.
“Some of the tries we’ve scored in this tournament – like Stuart Hogg’s against Ireland, where we exposed them out wide, the one I got against Wales and the one Tommy Seymour scored in the second half on Saturday – are testament to how much we’ve worked with Vern.
“What Vern has added is the way we approach the game, especially in our own half. We’re now a bit more realistic with the way we play the game.
“Vern has left the team in a much better position than when he found it, that’s for sure.”