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Men's Rugby Union Scotland's Blair hails Russell's improvement since big-money move

FINN RUSSELL has always had the flair to light up a match but Mike Blair believes the Scotland playmaker now has the patience to control an entire 80 minutes.

The 26-year-old has made a made an impressive start since swapping Glasgow for a big-money contract at French giants Racing 92 in the summer.

But while the latest additions to his highlights reel, be it the off-the-cuff chip he produced against Champions Cup opponents Ulster or any one of the numerous no-look passes he has pulled off, have stunned the Parisian faithful, it is the poise Russell has shown in the crucial moments that has made Blair sit up and take notice.

The Dark Blues assistant coach has experience himself of playing in the Top 14 with Brive and knows there is more to the French domestic scene than just throwing the ball about.

And he says the increased emphasis on discipline and control is already making an impact on the Scots’ maverick talisman.

Blair, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s Test clash with Fiji, said: “I think Finn’s had a great start to the season. He’s enjoying himself and when Finn’s enjoying himself that brings out his best rugby.

“I think he’s got a good balance to his game now. In France you typically kick a little bit more than you’d imagine. You think of the French league and think they throw it around from anywhere but there’s a little bit more structure there.

“He’s had to manage games but he’s also had games he’s had to play a lot more. That game management thing, they put a lot of onus and pressure on the nine and 10 in France to deal with those areas and he’s done that well.”

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