Finn Russell column: 'It was never me against Sexton - nothing changes'

Finn Russell
2017 RBS Six Nations: Scotland v Ireland
Venue: BT Murrayfield Date: Saturday, 4 February Kick-off: 14:25 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One & BBC Sport website & app. Listen on BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

The mood in the Scotland camp has been good as we gear up for our Six Nations opener against Ireland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

We've got a good team coming into the competition, the boys are on a high from the way their clubs are playing.

About 90% of the boys in the squad are playing for teams that have qualified for the knockout stages of the European competitions. I think that just shows the form that everyone is in and it's great to have guys who are in form playing around you.

For the Glasgow boys it's great coming off a high in Europe after a great win over Leicester at Welford Road that took us into the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

We were back in the Scotland camp on the Sunday afternoon so we didn't really get much time at all to soak it up, but in a way it was good to make the transition quickly. You need to forget about what's happened before and move on. The goal changes pretty quickly.

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I was rooming with Huw Jones on Monday which was good. I think rooming together is an important part of getting to know your team-mates. To be in a room with Huw is handy because he's going to be at 13 so to be able to chat to him and see what he wants on the field, get a better understanding of what he likes and how he plays is good. He doesn't play in the UK so it's good to understand what sort of style of play he likes and share stuff with him.

He's pretty chilled out which is good. We just sit about, watch some television and go to bed at roughly the same time, which is great because when you share with Jonny Gray he's in bed by 9pm and it's lights out!

Some of the chat in the build-up to this game was about me going up against Johnny Sexton. He has now been ruled out through injury, but I never really buy into these personal battles. It would have been good to go up against him, but Paddy Jackson has been going well this year.

It doesn't change that much for us as a team, our attacking or defensive game-plan. We might have to make some minor alterations, but it doesn't change much for us as a team or me as an individual.

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I've played against Sexton a few times, Jackson a few times. I've played against them all. I don't look at it as a one-on-one test. I just know I have to do my job on the pitch for Scotland so I can't get caught up in positional battles. If I start looking at it like that then I might start to change the way I play, so for me it's best to just stick to what I do and I think that is best for the team.

The way Munster and Leinster are playing at the moment, we know how good Ireland are going to be. We haven't beaten them in a good few years. I've only played against them once so I'm looking forward to the challenge. Joe Schmidt is a great coach. I would imagine he'll have a lot of trick plays up his sleeve for this game.

I don't really have any superstitions or a set pre-match routine. On the morning of a match I don't really tend to eat breakfast. I like to get a long lie and wake up whenever I want basically. I like to just do whatever I feel like to get me in the right frame of mind. That might be drinking a hot chocolate or eating a bag of sweets, anything so I'm going into the game feeling good, feeling comfortable.

The strength and conditioning guys aren't always too happy with that, but that's my routine, making sure I'm happy. For me, it's not a checklist of things that I must do, it's just making sure I'm feeling good going into the game.

Huw Jones, Finn Russell
Room-mates: Huw Jones and Finn Russell

We know that Scotland's opening-day record in the Championship is poor. As players we've mentioned it a few times. We need to start better. Every year you try to focus on the first game and we want to get out of the blocks as well as we can and get a good start to the tournament.

Momentum is so important. If you get off to a good start then it can set you up for the rest of the tournament. Hopefully, we can do that with a win against Ireland on Saturday.

Finn Russell was talking to BBC Sport Scotland's Andy Burke

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