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Russell key for Scotland in Ireland Six Nations clash: Laidlaw

Scotland's Finn Russell in Six Nations action against England at Murrayfield on February 24, 2018
AFP

Edinburgh (AFP) – Scotland vice-captain Greig Laidlaw has warned Six Nations pacesetters Ireland that fly-half Finn Russell is in the mood to wreak further havoc after masterminding the dismantling of England.

The Glasgow playmaker put in sub-par displays against Wales and France but was back to his flamboyant best, pulling the strings for Gregor Townsend’s side as they stunned England 25-13 in their last outing.

The 25-year-old, who will make a big-money switch to French giants Racing 92 this summer, played a crucial role in two of the Scots’ three tries and was named man of the match at Murrayfield.

Scotland, third in the Six Nations table after victories against France and England, can blow the championship wide open with a win over Joe Schmidt’s Grand Slam-chasers in Dublin this weekend.

“When Finn’s in that confident mood we feel as though we can break any defence in the world,” said Laidlaw. “We’ll need him to play well on Saturday.

“It’s brilliant to play with and alongside him. The players around him love having him there as he has such a sharp pass.

“I thought Finn was exceptional against England. He’s a world-class player. He may have had a couple of sticky moments in the first two games but you are never going to get it all your own way in Test rugby.”

Russell produced the moment of the match against the English when he looped a 30-metre pass over the heads of two opponents and into the hands of Huw Jones as the Scots romped up field to score their second touchdown.

Laidlaw, who took over at 10 when Russell was taken off with 20 minutes left against France, said: “I wasn’t worried about him, I felt he was in a good place.

“Finn’s a strong character, he likes a laugh and a joke but he’s serious about his rugby and that’s a side some people don’t see from him.

“He’s determined and such a hard worker in training on his skill set and that shone through in the game.”

Laidlaw admits Scotland will need to show similar levels of resolve as they look to beat the Irish in Dublin for the first time in eight years and keep their title hopes alive.

“In the context of the Six Nations now, this weekend is a bigger challenge than the England game,” he said. “If we are serious about challenging for the title then we need to win this game and clearly Ireland are unbeaten.

“It’s going to be a huge test for us and one which we need to meet head-on and we are looking forward to it.”

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