Ali Price ready to reconnect with Finn Russell as stand-off comes in from the cold
The pair lit up many a Friday night at Scotstoun and although the Warriors partnership was dissolved in 2018 when Russell swapped Glasgow for Paris, the half-backs continued to make merry at international level. Or at least they did until Russell’s well documented falling out with Gregor Townsend.
Coach and playmaker are now back on the same page and Russell was reintegrated into the squad on Sunday night, 24 hours after an agonising defeat with Racing 92 in the Heineken Champions Cup final against Exeter in Bristol.
Price was happy to report that there was no such drama this time around.
“When he came in I think he spoke to Gregor,” said the scrum-half. “I had a chat with him in the lobby. He was still getting over the loss. I think they went straight back to Paris and then he flew back on Sunday night. He was tired because he had had a busy couple of days.
“He was excited to be back in. He trained today and at the end of the session I told him that the first one was under the belt. It’s great to see and it’s great for the squad and for the country as well.”
It’s been over a year since Russell played for Scotland - “too long” says Price - and the Glasgow No 9 can’t wait to link up with him again.
“It will be exciting. It has been a long time since we played together but we have had some really fun games. I hadn’t actually seen him face-to-face for four months. It’s nice to reconnect.”
Russell had a hand in the three of Racing’s tries on Saturday but also gave one to Exeter when his long, high pass was intercepted by Jack Nowell who fed Henry Slade.
The Scot found himself on the receiving end of some criticism, particularly on social media, but Price leapt to his defence.
“People are very quick to pick up the negatives of a player’s performance. But I think Finn assisted both of Simon Zebo’s tries and if you look at his performances in the Champions Cup campaign he is a massive part of why they made it that far,” Price said.
“Not everything is going to come off and mistakes are going to happen. That’s rugby, that’s life, it happens. I give him credit for going out there and trying. He plays with confidence and he doesn’t let mistakes get to him. He wouldn’t be half the player he is if he did.
“You can look at the negatives, but the amount of risk he takes that come off - he wouldn’t say they are risks. He is a confident guy and he has won a lot of games for Scotland and Racing because of that.
“He sees things on the field that other players just don’t see. You shouldn’t put a guy like that into a box; you should let him express himself.”