Finn Russell On His Bizarre Lions Experience With Warren Gatland
Glasgow and Scotland playmaker Finn Russell has opened up for the first time on his ‘bizarre’ British and Irish Lions experience under Warren Gatland last summer, as part of the now infamous “Geography Six.”
Tomas Francis, Gareth Davies, Cory Hill, Kristian Dacey, Allan Dell and Russell were called up to the Lions squad midway through the tour of New Zealand, in order to ‘protect’ the Test 23. The entire episode was handled poorly, with Gatland giving into pressure and failing to play any of them, bar Russell and Dell who briefly cameoed against the Hurricanes.
Dell only came on for a handful of minutes because of a sin bin to Joe Marler, while Russell came on for just five minutes while Dan Biggar underwent a HIA. All six went home after the Hurricanes game. It was a complete and utter embarrassment for the six players, and for the Lions brand itself.
In a lengthy interview with Mark Palmer in the Times, Russell says “you could pick out so many things that didn’t make sense.”
“You could pick out so many things that didn’t make sense, but we’ll not get into that” Russell said.
“You’re called into a [squad], but you’re not really going to play, you’re there to hold a bag.”
“Even five years ago at Glasgow when I was trying to get a game, you’re still not in that position. You’re still training, still taking part, whereas there it was split into two teams.”
“It was just how it was going to have to be to get the guys ready for the Test, but it was a very different environment to what I’m used to in terms of pushing for a position in training.”
A strange episode that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.