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Men's Rugby Union Gregor Townsend: Forget Russell, I am focused on the guys I have

GREGOR TOWNSEND says there have been no fresh talks with Finn Russell as his stand-off with the Scotland talisman continues.

Russell has missed the Dark Blues’ opening two Six Nations clashes, and will again be absent when Townsend’s team run out in Rome for Saturday’s showdown with Italy.

The row was initially sparked by allegations of a late-night drinking session which breached team rules, but has since developed into a debate over the Racing 92 star’s relationship with his head coach and his place in the team’s decision-making structure.

Russell cast his international future into major doubt the day after the Scots’ 16-9 defeat by England when he gave an interview with the Sunday Times detailing the extent of the breakdown of his partnership with his former Glasgow boss, insisting: “There’s no relationship, we don’t work at all together.”

Townsend responded the following day with a flurry of statements and interviews in which he made it clear Russell would only be welcomed back if the fly-half agreed to sign up to the team’s new standards of behaviour.

Now Townsend says there have been no further developments to the status quo in the nine days that have followed.

And the Scotland head coach declined to discuss the impasse further as he insisted his focus is on preparing the players he does have available for the Azzurri.

Asked if he had spoken with Russell since he made his public response to the Sunday Times, Townsend told a press conference: “Since we spoke to you, probably not, no.

“We’re obviously focused on the 23 going out this weekend. He’s not in that so I’d prefer to focus on that 23.”

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