Maverick Russell provides spark as Scotland hint at more to come

Scotland's Mark Bennett is tackled by France's Remy Lamerat
Scotland's Mark Bennett is tackled by France's Remy Lamerat
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Stuart Hogg has backed Finn Russell to be the maverick playmaker Scotland need to cut through their Six Nations rivals.

The Glasgow stand-off made his championship debut in front of 80,000 fans at the Stade de France as the Scots lost to Philippe Saint-Andre’s men.

It was a defiant but frustrating display from the visitors in Paris against a French side clad in unfamiliar red.

While they scored the only try of the match after substitute wing Dougie Fife found space to dive over just before the interval, Vern Cotter’s team let their hosts off the hook with a string of penalties.

Their misdemeanours were punished by fly-half Camille Lopez as he knocked over five penalties to ensure Scotland’s 16-year wait for a win on French soil continues.

But there were many positives for Cotter to mull over, none more so than the display of his six-cap No 10 Russell.

He kicked with authority but also took responsibility whenever he got his hands on the ball, keeping the French guessing with a series of daring carries.

Now team-mate Hogg – once tipped to move from full-back to fly-half as Scotland struggled to find a domineering 10 – claims the side have got the right man for the job.

He said: “Finn is different class – a class act. We’ve found you can only expect the unexpected from him.

“He’ll throw a dummy here, a little chip kick there. He’s got that little bit of invention you need to unpick the top teams.

“It’s great. We’re looking for a little bit of individual brilliance and Finn is the man that can bring that.

“He’s a brilliant player and as long as he keeps working hard – which he does – then he’ll keep moving in the right direction.”

Defeat in Paris was not the start the Scots were hoping for, but with the Gray brothers Richie and Jonny looking solid in the second row, Russell ticking over nicely at 10 and centre Mark Bennett also looking a star find, 
there is plenty to suggest the side will not suffer like they did last year.