Townsend fears impact of players leaving Scotland
|Autumn internationals: Scotland v Australia|
|Date: Saturday, 25 November Venue: Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh Kick-off: 14:30 GMT|
|Coverage: Live on BBC One Scotland, BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Sport website|
National head coach Gregor Townsend has warned that losing too many players from Scottish sides will ultimately harm the international side.
Fly-half Finn Russell is to leave Glasgow Warriors in the summer to join French Top-14 outfit Racing 92.
Russell’s Warriors and Scotland team-mate, the lock Jonny Gray, is currently weighing up a move to Bristol.
“The better thing for a national team is more people playing in Scotland,” Townsend said.
“It really helps with coaching time, it really helps with player management.
“A lot of players got rested the week before the Samoa game. If more and more players left Scotland, that is going to be much tougher.
“A huge reason why Ireland have been so successful over the last few years is their players are in that same area – where they’re all playing in Ireland, they’re getting managed, they’re building up combinations and connections with players, whether it’s at Leinster or Munster.
“It’s been a big advantage for us. We obviously wish Finn all the best.
“We’ve got two players currently injured who are playing in France that were likely to be in our squad [Greig Laidlaw and Richie Gray] and we’ll now have a third.
“We’ve got to make sure there’s not too many players leave Scotland.”
Russell was central to an acclaimed Scotland display last weekend, when they took world champions New Zealand to the wire before ultimately going down 22-17 at Murrayfield.
Townsend believes they will need to eclipse that performance to beat Australia in their final autumn Test match on Saturday.
“We play the current number three team in the world, arguably the best attacking team in the world,” he said.
“Australia beat New Zealand a few weeks ago, they were very good against Wales and had a lot of the game on a wet day against England, so we know we are playing one of the form teams in the world right now. If we drop our standards, we are not going to win.”
Townsend has taken great satisfaction in how several of the untested members of the Scotland squad – such as Edinburgh prop Darryl Marfo – have stepped up to look at home in the Test arena this autumn.
“You don’t know until you get the opportunity and we all agree that someone like Darryl Marfo has exceeded expectations,” he said.
“Maybe not his own expectations, but he’s gone into international rugby and thrived.
“Playing against New Zealand and doing what he did last week was brilliant to see.
“I felt the guys who came off the bench last weekend – Jamie Bhatti and George Turner on their second caps, and Luke Hamilton on his first cap – had a little bit more confidence and really took the game to New Zealand as part of an excellent collective effort.”