Finn Russell column: 'We need another big performance to win in France'
|2017 RBS Six Nations: France v Scotland|
|Venue: Stade de France Date: Sunday, 12 February Kick-off: 15:00 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|
We knew how important it was to get off to a winning start in the Six Nations so the victory against Ireland last weekend meant so much to everyone involved with the squad. It was 11 years since Scotland last won their opening game of the championship so it was good to put an end to that sequence.
The manner of the victory was very pleasing too. We came out flying in the first half and scored some great tries but Ireland came back at us after the break and got themselves in front. For us to then edge back ahead and see the game out was very satisfying.
Being in that situation - the game in the balance going into the final few minutes - quite a number of times in the past few years has been helpful. In the past with Scotland when we've been in that situation the pressure has affected us. It's made us overplay or try too many things to get the win. Against Argentina in the autumn we showed we had learned from those experiences and we were able to close out the game. We've developed that as a team and as players.
Even when Paddy Jackson got his try to put Ireland ahead there was no panic. We knew what we had to do - go down the other end and score three more points. It was pleasing for me as a 10 to see the whole team confident and remain cool in that situation.
It was a physical game. I took a blow early in the second half in a collision with Robbie Henshaw. I knew I had been banged in the head but I didn't know how bad it was. I made another tackle not long after it and I felt all right.
After my injury last year I'm a bit more aware of the situation with the head and the brain now. We had a scrum five metres from our own line and I thought if I did have a concussion I better go and check it. I didn't want to mess up in that area of the field. I told Greig Laidlaw and he got the doctor on. Dr James Robson is the best in the business. He's always telling us that players must be honest in these situations. For me it's just about being sensible.
Nobody wants to come off and nine times out of 10 if you go off with a head knock you're not coming back on. It is about players being smart. You have to look at the long-term. Rather than risking yourself for one game or even 30 minutes you're as well taking yourself off and double-checking you're all right to play on.
There is a big onus on the players to stand up and admit when they've had a head knock. It's nothing to be ashamed of - it's like any other injury. If players own up when these things happen it will make rugby a safer game. Thankfully I was cleared to continue and came through the head injury assessment after the match and another assessment on Monday so I've been able to train as normal this week.
Vern Cotter was really happy at the end of the game. He was really pleased with the composure we showed and how we didn't crack under the pressure.
We enjoyed beating Ireland but we very quickly left that behind to concentrate on this game coming up against France. We know how dangerous a team they can be. One to 15 as individuals they are world-class players. We can't afford to give them a sniff.
A couple of years ago we ran them close in Paris. We prevented them from crossing our tryline but they were able to kick enough penalties to win the game. Defensively we were very good that day but we struggled a little bit in attack.
Stuart Hogg will win his 50th cap on Sunday which is an amazing achievement. He thoroughly deserves it, he's been outstanding for Scotland. Having Hoggy outside me is great. You saw how dangerous he was against Ireland - he's on fire just now.
When he's got space in the wide channels he's deadly. It's great playing inside him knowing I can just chuck him the ball and he'll create something. Even when he's not got the ball the defence is always focusing on him so it creates space for others. Hopefully he can make the difference for us in the Stade de France.
France will be disappointed after losing narrowly to England. I imagine they will come back flying. If we can make it two wins from two it would put us in a great position in the championship. However, we haven't won in Paris since 1999 so it shows how hard it is to do. We know we'll need another big performance to come away with the win.
Finn Russell was talking to BBC Sport Scotland's Andy Burke