Finn Russell played a starring role in defeat for the Lions against South Africa — then hinted that maybe the tourists could have had different outcomes if they’d done things his way at key points earlier in the tour.
The mercurial Scot helped pep the attack of Warren Gatland’s team after coming on in the 11th minute, flicking out 18 passes, many of them quick and accurate, and coming up with a number of clever kicks.
His effort wasn’t enough to win the Lions the game, with the Springboks triumphing 19-16 to take the series, but Russell had claim to being the Lions’ best player on the day. He was injured early in the tour and the tourists were criticised for playing conservatively in the second Test. It left some wondering whether they could they have played a different way on the tour.
He said in an interview on Sky Sports: “For me, when I’ve been watching the games, the way I play is slightly different.
“So I’ve been watching it and thinking if we do one or two things differently, we could maybe have had different outcomes – the South Africa A game and the second Test.
“I think tonight I’m happy I got the chance from about 11 minutes to show the style of rugby I would have played against South Africa.
“For me, it was pleasing to have actually got on and chucked it around a little bit.
“I just went on knowing we had to move them around a bit and play some expansive rugby. I just went on and played my style of rugby.
“That showed in that performance tonight.”
The Lions led 10-6 at half-time but should have been further ahead after failing to take exploit a number of opportunities.
They were then reeled in by three penalties and a try from Cheslin Kolbe.
“We’re gutted to have lost the series, but the boys can take a lot of pride from that performance,” said Russell.
“We’re going to be hurting, but it was a great performance, a team performance. We just didn’t managed to get the win.”
Of his own display and tour, he said: “I’ve had two weeks training, so I was ready for it.
“It’s been a bit of a frustrating tour for me.
“I tore my Achilles at the start and tried to get on with it.
“The first couple of games were maybe not as good as I wanted them to be, but I think I played quite well tonight.
“For me, it’s great to go out there and get some good game-time in the red jersey.
“I loved every minute when I was out there.”
Sir Ian McGeechan added: “The fact that he was available today was a good call.
“I would have started him, because I think he is so different.
“You needed to put that out in front of South Africa for 80 minutes. He’s the best attacking kicker that we have in the four countries, and, like his coach Gregor Townsend, he sees things early.
“He’s a big-match player and he showed that today.
“He made good decisions because he could see what was happening around him.”
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