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Six Nations 2021: Stuart Hogg happy to hand 10 shirt back to Finn Russell after Italy romp

Stuart Hogg doesn't want to make a habit of playing 10.
Stuart Hogg doesn't want to make a habit of playing 10.

Stuart Hogg doesn’t expect to find himself at 10 again anytime soon, even if he piloted Scotland to a historic record win over Italy at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Scotland’s 52-10 romp was their record total and margin of victory in the championship – Five or Six Nations.

The Scots scored eight tries with the captain moved forward to the key playmaking role for the first time. But it was a one-off, he clearly indicated.

“I’d like to think I’ve made a good enough job at playing full-back throughout my time,” he said. “I think there’s a lot better players that can play 10 than me.

“I just want what’s best for the team. If that means I’m playing 10 or 15, as long as we’re winning games of rugby I don’t care where I’m playing.”

‘At times I was uncomfortable’

Mandatory Credit: Duhan van der Merwe completes the rout with Scotland’s eighth try.

Despite the ease as Scotland rolled to victory, Hogg didn’t feel it was a vintage display.

“At times I felt we were very much in control of it. At other times I was uncomfortable because the pace was quick. We lost our structure a fair amount in the first half especially,” he said.

“If we’re brutally honest we could have had maybe another couple of tries in the first half and in the second half.

“Nobody thought it was going to be plain sailing, and I found it really quite challenging at times. I really enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun out there today alongside the rest of the boys and that showed in our performance.

“But Finn (Russell) is a world class talent. I have no doubt he’ll be back in the 10 shirt next week.”

Scots will have a full squad to pick from after release deal

Certainly Scotland will have a far stiffer task in Paris on Friday against Friday. Their last-gasp victory over Wales killed off the last Grand Slam chance and gave themselves a shot at the championship title.

There’s relief for Scotland that their English-based players will be available as a deal between the Six Nations and the clubs was confirmed at the end of the game.

But France will be highly motivated to take the title by extending a winning home record over the Scots dating back to 1999.

“I think we can take a huge amount of confidence in the fact that the way we wanted to play has worked for us throughout large periods of this Six Nations,” said Hogg.

“Our defence has been spot on, our attack has been very, very clinical. It’s just the little bits in between that have let us down.

“We can take a huge amount of confidence on both sides of the ball from today. We’ll get excited about another challenge against France next week. It will be one hell of a battle for us, but we’re very much looking forward to another opportunity.

“We’re more than capable of going across to France and winning. And that’s what we’ll start gearing up for that now.”

Scots prepared for third game in just 13 days

Gregor Townsend prior to Saturday’s game in the Murrayfield sunshine.

Head coach Gregor Townsend expressed relief that he’d have a full hand to choose from for Paris. The team will stay at Oriam for one full contact session before they travel on Wednesday.

“One positive around our preparation is that we don’t have to do too many meetings to preview France because we did that three weeks ago,” said the head coach. “The players should know who our opposition are and what they will bring.

“We watched the game against Wales in the team room together and we were able to share anything different.”

After seven changes for Italy, there’s every likelihood they’ll change back for France, despite strong showings from players brought in like Dave Cherry and Huw Jones.

“We’ll wait and see,” said Townsend. “Obviously Finn (Russell) should be available and we’ll monitor Jonny Gray’s progress. They’re key players for us.

“And we’ll have a good review to see whether players whether are right for our game-plan for France.

“We’re now going to have a situation where we’ve got more players to select from with game experience. They’ll put pressure on those who started those first three games.”

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