Six Nations: Finn Russell 'irreplaceable' for Scotland - Colin Gregor

Finn Russell
Finn Russell has left Scotland's Six Nations camp after "a breach of team protocol"
Six Nations Championship
Dates: 1 February-14 March
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Finn Russell is Scotland's only irreplaceable player, believes former Glasgow colleague Colin Gregor.

The stand-off, 27, will not face Ireland in the Six Nations opener after choosing to leave the camp.

He was disciplined for "a breach of team protocol" relating to alcohol consumption and a missed training session, and was told he would not be considered for the trip to Dublin.

"He's pretty much the last one you'd want to go," Gregor told BBC Scotland.

"So much of what Scotland do is around Finn Russell and how important he is. The minutes that he's played will be higher than almost any other player in the key games throughout the last few years so there'll be a huge disruption to preparations.

"If [captain] Stuart Hogg was out, it'd be a big blow, but not as big a blow as losing Finn Russell and losing him not through injury but through some sort of ill-discipline."

'Townsend is under serious pressure'

Russell was invited by head coach Gregor Townsend to remain in camp and help the team prepare for their first championship fixture, but opted to return to club Racing 92.

Since Scotland's underwhelming World Cup group-stage exit in Japan, Townsend has brought in a new defence coach in Steve Tandy and scrum consultant, the former France prop Pieter de Villiers.

After a poor 2019, Gregor believes Townsend is under significant pressure and hopes "fences can be mended" to allow Russell to return during the Six Nations.

"Finn Russell is a mercurial player, he is world-class, and sometimes these players can be hard to manage, but that's what good coaches do," he said.

"Gregor Townsend is under pressure and he's got to start delivering. For Scotland to do well, you need to have your best players on the field and not out on a limb because of a disciplinary issue.

"You hope that whatever's happened can be resolved, the harmony can be found again and Finn Russell can be welcomed back in. If he has broken protocol then no-one's bigger than the team, but you do hope from a Scottish perspective that he is welcomed back in because we're a whole lot better with him than we are without him."

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