|Venue: Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh Date: Sunday, 13 November Kick-off: 14:15 GMT|
|Protection: Stay textual content commentary on BBC Sport web site & app|
As quickly as Adam Hastings was dominated out of the remainder of Scotland’s autumn collection by means of damage, there was just one man Gregor Townsend might flip to, whether or not he wished to or not.
The top coach’s frosty relationship with Finn Russell is properly documented, however Russell is definitely Scotland’s greatest fly-half, blessed with the imaginative and prescient, aptitude and mischief that enables him to carve open defences like no different Scottish 10.
Since his non-selection, supposedly primarily based on “type and consistency”, Russell has been tearing it up for Racing within the Prime 14, a not-so-subtle reminder of his talents.
Crucially, he’s additionally kicking his targets, which proved to be Scotland’s downfall within the defeat to Australia.
Now that Russell is again in camp, the dilemma for Townsend is how you can use him, if in any respect. When the crew is introduced to face the All Blacks on Sunday, Scottish eyes will probably be centered on the ten jersey above all others.
Let’s get this out of the best way. Ross Thompson is an excellent younger fly-half, who has impressed for Glasgow Warriors since he began enjoying senior rugby, however there is no such thing as a probability he begins on Sunday.
The 23-year-old is within the squad because the third selection 10 – he’s there to study from senior gamers and develop his sport for probabilities down the street.
In the end the selection for Townsend comes down to 2 names: Russell and Blair Kinghorn.
The person in possession?
Kinghorn was seemingly the person Townsend had put his belief in after Russell was jettisoned on the finish of the Six Nations.
A convert to fly-half having performed most of his early profession on the wing or at full-back, the Edinburgh man had began 5 Exams in a row earlier than the Fiji sport, and appeared odds-on to start out subsequent yr’s World Cup at quantity 10.
Nevertheless, within the first sport of the autumn collection, regardless of enjoying properly general and scoring an outstanding particular person strive, Kinghorn missed the late penalty that might have received it, and was subsequently benched for the Fiji conflict.
Having invested a lot in Kinghorn, is Townsend prepared to easily forged him apart and parachute Russell in? It might look like muddled pondering at greatest, an unbelievably poor piece of man-management at worst.
Then once more, can Russell actually be introduced again amid a lot fanfare, and for such an enormous sport, to not begin? If Scotland are to have any probability towards New Zealand, they want an 80-minute efficiency of the best normal, and so they want their greatest gamers with a view to try this.
Play them each?
Another choice, one that might ease the burden and expectation, and certainly one which pundits have prompt Scotland strive previously, is that Russell and Kinghorn are deployed collectively at 10 and 12.
Not solely would that axis add an additional playmaker, it will additionally enable Scotland to assault either side of the breakdown, and will greatest utilise Kinghorn’s operating energy.
Townsend has sprung many a variety shock throughout his reign as head coach, however to pair his two fly-halves collectively can be up there with the boldest of them.
In truth, Townsend can’t actually win on this state of affairs.
If he names Russell on the bench, the stress on Kinghorn will probably be immense, unfair virtually. Each single cross, kick and carry that Kinghorn makes will probably be scrutinised and in comparison with what Russell might need achieved in the identical state of affairs.
Equally, if Russell begins, can he presumably stay as much as the expectation?
If he does and helps to ship a primary ever win over New Zealand, it will be fairly the turnaround for a person whose worldwide future was up within the air simply a few weeks in the past.