Nothing would have wiped the smile off Finn Russell’s face when he returned to the Scotland team after a year in exile.
The mercurial fly half won his 50th cap from the bench in Scotland’s demolition of Georgia at Murrayfield on Friday night – a little over a year after his last outing for Gregor Townsend’s side.
A fall-out between Russell and the head coach saw him leave Scotland’s training camp back in January and he sat out the rest of the Six Nations campaign before rugby was suspended in March.
The pair patched up their differences during the Coronavirus lockdown and Russell could not hide his delight at wearing the thistle on his chest again.
The Racing 92 star said: “That’s the way I play, I’m always smiling, I always enjoy being out there.
“So even if that wasn’t my 50th [cap] or my first game back since the World Cup, you would have seen the same smile.”
Asked if his high profile absence from international duty had led to some light hearted remarks from teammates Russell insisted it had been straight to business – with his focus on playing a supportive role.
Russell said: “There’s been none of it actually. When I came in I, not exactly took a step back, but I didn’t want to start saying ‘let’s do this and let’s do that’. I thought I’d leave it to the boys.
“Obviously [Adam Hastings] was starting [at fly half] so I had a big chat with him about what I thought about the game and things to potentially look for.
“I was more focused on making sure the subs were ready instead of trying to chat in huddles or say too much. I left that to the boys who were starting.”
Russell took to the field early in the second half, taking up his natural position with Hastings moving out to inside centre.
The partnership yielded some exciting attacking play but Russell said it was not on his mind to go out to make a point.
The 28-year-old said: “Personally I wasn’t going there to try and show anything or to do too much. I just went out and played my game.
“It’s not for me to decide who plays 10 or 12 or who is in the [match day] 23.
“I went out there and had some fun and I think that showed with the smiling.
“I am not going out there to say ‘it is me against Hasto’ or this or that.
“It is a team game and I will support him just as much if he’s starting or on the bench or wherever he is.
“I will help him as much as possible as I will do for anyone in the team.”
But the question on every Scotland fan’s lips this week will be whether Russell returns to the starting 15 to take on Wales in Llanelli on Saturday – the delayed finale to the 2020 Six Nations championship.
Russell said: “It will be a different challenge we get. The forwards will have to front up and the defence will be slightly different and better.
“[Wales] pose different threats but it’s different opportunities for us to score against.
“I’ve not looked at them too much but having played them a few times I know they’re a difficult defence to break down. So I’ll get stuck into that on Monday.”