The door is open for Finn Russell to return to the Scotland squad – but the fly half must commit to the team’s code of conduct, according to Gregor Townsend.
Russell left Scotland’s Six Nations camp on Thursday after Townsend informed the 27-year-old he was being left out of the Ireland match following an incident at the team hotel in Edinburgh last Sunday night.
Asked if the ball was in Russell’s court to get back into the national team’s plans, the head coach said: “Finn, in that two-and-a-half-hour meeting I had with him on Monday night, was aware of the consequences of his actions and aware he wouldn’t be involved against Ireland.
“We had a really good conversation after that information was passed to him.
“Anybody that wants to come in and put their hand up for selection – form is part of it, and ability – but it is also being able to live up to the team standards. Anybody out the team must agree to that and accept that.”
Townsend revealed for the first time his view of the events that led to his stand-off being disciplined.
He said: “I was in a coaches’ room until about 11.30pm but I did say hello to Finn when he arrived with Sean Maitland and during that time Finn was drinking and a couple of players had told him to stop drinking.
“I saw him around about quarter to twelve. He decided to leave and his parents picked him up.
“Before he left he had about a five minute conversation with me and we didn’t see him until the following evening.”
Experienced hooker Fraser Brown said the team was not being affected by Russell’s controversial departure and said that fans concerned about the loss of Scotland’s key play-maker should place their faith in the players who remain – such as Glasgow Warriors fly half Adam Hastings.
Brown said: “Obviously what happened on Sunday was disappointing but the guys here all want to pull in the same direction and achieve together.
“We were pretty clear as a team what we wanted off the pitch. We were clear with standards, a code that we must adhere to and it is up to each individual to live up to that and not to let down your teammates.”
Asked about the argument that Russell’s absence would weaken the Scots, Brown said: “I think that’s pretty disingenuous towards the other players we have in our squad.
“You can’t get away from the fact that Finn is a quality rugby player but I think Adam has also been fantastic at Glasgow over the last month.
“Playing with him week-in and week-out I have been lucky enough to see the development in his game.
“He is playing so well, a much-improved communicator on the pitch, he knows how to organise his game and direct his team the way he wants.
“We have still got plenty of quality operators in our squad, the focus for us is just about how we put the best team on the park and how we produce our best rugby.”