'Fearless' Russell can hurt England
SPOTLIGHT: England will pay a high price if they lose concentration against Scotland playmaker Finn Russell even for a moment of Saturday’s Six Nations opener, says fullback Elliot Daly.
Daly knows the “free and fearless” Russell has the range of attacking skills to orchestrate a first victory at Twickenham since 1983.
Two years ago the Racing 92 player inspired a remarkable Scottish comeback when a 0-31 deficit ended in a 38-all draw, the underdogs denied a famous win only by a stoppage-time try from George Ford.
And more recently Daly was present for Saracens’ Champions Cup semifinal defeat at Paris La Defense Arena, when Russell engineered the match-winning try with a trademark chip over the defensive line.
Russell is back in Gregor Townsend’s squad after playing less than an hour of Test rugby in 2020.
He was stood down following a breakdown in relations with Townsend before last year’s Six Nations only to suffer a leg injury after patching up relations with the head coach.
But England’s Daly warned on Tuesday that the 28-year-old was the danger man.
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“The way he plays is very free and fearless,” he said.
“You have to be ready for everything. He might do a few things that come off, but you have to stay in the moment and limit them.
“I’ve played against him a few times now and you have to anticipate some stuff that you wouldn’t anticipate from other players.”
Six Nations champions England have turned to reality TV show “Love Island” for inspiration as they look to forge social bonds when in camp during the Six Nations.
Among the tougher COVID-19 safety protocols is a rule that players can only socialise outdoors, in areas that include heaters, a giant chessboard and table tennis.
“It’s like Love Island without the weather,” said Daly.
“We’ve got the fire pit, so that’s a tick. It’s nice to have the option to do this, otherwise it would be very difficult to socialise as a group.”
England announced on Tuesday that respected defence coach John Mitchell had signed a contract extension until the end of the 2023 World Cup.
The former All Black coach joined Eddie Jones’ management team in 2018.
“We have some unfinished business and a big goal of winning in 2023,” said Mitchell in reference to England’s 2019 World Cup final defeat.