England planning to ‘go after’ Finn Russell in Scotland Six Nations opener

Finn Russell is set to be key

England plan to swarm Finn Russell in the hope of shutting down Scotland’s ringmaster in Saturday’s Six Nations clash at Murrayfield.

Defence coach Anthony Seibold has instructed England to “go after” the Racing 92 fly-half knowing that he has the ability to shred defences through his range of running, passing and attacking skills.

The 29-year-old has won two and drawn one of his last three Calcutta Cup clashes, on each occasion lifting his game for the oldest fixture in international rugby, and he provides Scotland’s greatest threat.

Seibold believes the mission starts up front and wants England to use the expectation of the Murrayfield crowd against him.

“Finn’s a super talented player. He’s a key positional player. Any team’s number 10 in a lot of ways is the quarterback,” the Australian said.

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“They execute the plays from an attacking perspective and they often have really effective kicking games. Finn has got both of those.

“Gregor Townsend has designed a gameplan that allows him to not only play structured rugby but unstructured as well, so we need to make sure we have a plan in place. We have done that and now we need to execute that plan.

“How do you take away his weapons? He wants time and space so he can ball play and use his really effective kicking game, both short and long, so you need to take away time and space.

“That’s easier said than done of course. I think it’s a case of making sure we go after Finn Russell. Not outside our defensive system, but making sure we put some pressure on him.

“You need to win the collisions, the ruck and the ruck speed to do that. It’s not just what Finn does, it’s what their forwards do to create momentum for Finn and he plays very effectively off the back of that.

“He’s playing at home as well and we need to take away that home advantage and make that home advantage – which is most definitely a weapon – into a bit of a burden.”

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