"Next Russell" - Scotland still want to call-up exciting English fly-half - Ruck

“Next Russell” – Scotland still want to call-up exciting English fly-half

Despite being turned down twice, Scotland boss Gregor Townsend remains determined to call-up wonderkid fly-half Fin Smith.

“I have chatted to Fin Smith on three occasions now since the Six Nations and have chatted to other players who are dual qualified that have not made our squad,” said Townsend.

“He is definitely a player we think very highly of.

“He has played a lot of rugby at a young age and just turned 20 a few weeks ago. It was great to get to know the person as well. He has close links with my old club, his grandad played for Gala and the Lions and his mum is from a village three miles from Gala. 

“It has been good to get that connection and see how his game is progressing. I thought one of his best games was at the weekend when he played Bath.

“I went down to watch the Premiership final against London Irish so yeah, he is progressing but we didn’t feel this tour is the right time for him and obviously he would have to make a commitment between us and England.”

Smith victorious in debut Blakiston Challenge

Smith admitted he was thrilled to emulate former Northampton Saints fly-half Dan Biggar in crossing the finish line first on his debut ‘Blakiston Challenge’ attempt.

Since 2018, the Club’s players and staff have participated in the event at Castle Ashby, which pays homage to former Saints captain Sir Arthur ‘Freddie’ Blakiston and his life-saving heroics in World War I which earned him a Military Cross.

Smith was closely followed over the line by George Furbank in second and Tommy Freeman came third. 

Nigel Owens names his Rugby World Cup dream team

It’s actually interesting to note that the majority of the players that Owens picked are captains. The entire pack have captained their countries


Fullback: Israel Folau (Australia)

Owens said: “For me, it’s nip and tuck between Halfpenny and Folau, next to nothing to choose between them. Leigh is brilliant because under the high ball and with his kicking at goal under pressure. He may not always break the line when running but puts his body on the line in defence and is a top-notch match-winner.

“But I go for Folau – only just, I should stress – because of his ability to seemingly beat his man every time he gets the ball in his hand. He’s such an exciting player and like Leigh he is one of the best under the high ball.

“It’s a toss of a coin for me… and it’s come down in Folau’s favour.”


Winger: Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

Owens said: “How can you fail to be impressed when watching Hogg play. He’s so exciting as he burst into that line and, of course, was named Six Nations player of the tournament.

“I know he’s a full-back for Scotland, but he is so quick and direct he could easily play on the wing. He reminds me a bit of Shane Williams with some of the things he does.

“When you see who is on the other wing in my team, you’ll see how they would work brilliantly in tandem.”

Fixtures for the Six Nations - Round 1

Outside-centre: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)

Owens said: “Not only is he one of the greatest centres in the history of rugby union but he’s a fantastic man off the field as well. O’Driscoll has been a wonderful ambassador for the sport and a real leader. He always respected referees and set the right example for others to follow.

“A legend of the game who conducted himself superbly, on and off the pitch.”

Inside-centre: Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand)

Owens said: “He’s another brilliant player and after every game, win or lose, he would come up and give me a hug. Ma’a has always found time at after-match functions or at breakfast if we’ve been staying at the same hotel to come over and have a chat.

“What a player, mind, too. One of the stalwarts of the New Zealand side for so many years.”

Winger: Shane Williams (Wales)

Owens said: “When people ask me who is the best player I have refereed it’s pretty much an impossible task to pick one because I’ve been lucky enough to take charge of so many greats.

“But if I’m pushed, I would pick Shane for what he achieved after coming from football at 17 or 18 years of age.

“He was in the mould of Gerald Davies in how he left defenders gasping for air as he beat them with those dazzling sidesteps. Nobody would fancy defending against a back three of Shane, Hogg and Folau, I can tell you that.”