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Russell need to relax in the emotion of his final Scotstoun game

Finn Russell plays his final home game for the Glasgow Warriors before his move to France in the PRO14 semi-final against Scarlets.
Finn Russell plays his final home game for the Glasgow Warriors before his move to France in the PRO14 semi-final against Scarlets.

Dave Rennie wants Finn Russell to “relax and do the obvious” in what is his final game at Scotstoun but Glasgow hopes will just be the penultimate in a Warriors jersey.

The Scotland stand-off hasn’t always been first choice for Rennie in his final season and was hooked after just 40 minutes when the Warriors last played the Scarlets in Wales a month ago.

However tonight’s Guinness PRO14 semi-final against the Welshmen at Scotstoun – which the Warriors have built into a real citadel again under Rennie this season – should be different, believes the head coach, and it all stems from Russell taking the smart options and not the over-adventurous route.

“I just want Finn to relax and do the obvious,” he said. “I don’t want him to be overawed by the occasion.

“What I am trying to say if there is space and it makes sense to kick it, we kick it. If there are opportunity to keep the ball in hand, we do that.

“We don’t need to try and pull rabbits out of our backsides, that type of thing.

“We’re lucky. He has played a lot of test footie, he has led us around the park in regard what we have done over the last couple of weeks (in preparation).

“He is clear on his role. He is disappointed at how he went against these guys last time and he only got forty minutes and we are expecting better things and so is he.

“I have a lot of confidence in him. It is his last game at home which is pretty special.

“He is an important part of our make up and I think is in the right head space.”

The link-up with George Horne is obviously a key one for Glasgow, with the young scrum-half again preferred over Henry Pyrgos and Ali Price.

“We have picked George on his form,” continued Rennie. “He is a bit of a freak in regards to his speed and conditioning.

“He is a leader, gets to the breakdown very quickly, he is consistent and electric and has a great ability to get second touches. He has worked really hard on his distribution, likewise with his kicking game.

“He is a tough little bugger, he is competitive and we like that about him.

“We always said we would pick on form and reputations count for nothing. We have backed that up. George has been excellent, will have a great future and he deserves to get the start.”

Similarly, Rennie has left three of his experienced international centres out of the lineup with Nick Grigg and Sam Johnson starting ahead of Alex Dunbar and Huw Jones. Peter Horne is on the bench.

“Nick and Sam have been our best midfielders this season,” reasoned Rennie. “There’s not a lot between all of these guys. We’re fortunate we’ve got really good depth in midfield but we felt, based on the opposition, that they’re our best fit.”

Despite three full weeks since their last game, Rennie believes his team will not be gun-shy come kick-off.

“We’ve had 51 players to pick from, so we’ve got a lot of guys missing out but they’ve been great helping others to prepare,” said Rennie.

“It’s given us a chance to tidy up a few bits of our game and now everyone has got a full tank. We’ve had a good time to prepare tactically and we think we’re in a good place.”

Scarlets play as open a game as the Warriors, but Rennie is looking forward to the contest and the visit of the Scotland captain.

“We’ve turned John Barclay’s picture (in the gallery of club centurions) around in the clubhouse,” joked Rennie. “Obviously I’m sure he’ll be welcomed back here and he’s got a lot of good mates in our team, but they’ll put aside that friendship for 80 minutes and rip into each other, I’d imagine.

“They’ve got a positive mindset, they’ll want to play, so our pitch is ideal for that. It doesn’t get dark now until about 10 o’clock, so conditions will be perfect.

“But we like playing out here, we train out here a lot. It allows for a really fast paced game and that’s what we’re keen for tomorrow.

Scarlets will be without the injured Leigh Halfpenny but have brought back Johnny McNicoll at full-back and kept Rhys Patchell at stand-off.

Glasgow (vs Scarlets, Guinness PRO14 semi-final, Scotstoun, tonight 7.45 pm)

Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, DTH van der Merwe; Finn Russell, George Horne; Jamie Bhatti, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson; Tim Swinson, Jonny Gray; Matt Fagerson, Callum Gibbins, Ryan Wilson (capt).

Replacements: George Turner, Alex Allan, Siua Halanukonuka, Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro, Henry Pyrgos, Peter Horne, Ruaridh Jackson.

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