Finn Russell: Ex-Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan says Scotland fly-half should be on plane to South Africa

Finn Russell (left) tangles with France hooker Julien Marchand in Paris
Sir Ian McGeechan says his compatriot Russell (left) produced an impressive tactical kicking display against France

Sir Ian McGeechan says Finn Russell's tactical kicking in Scotland's win over France was a further demonstration of why he should be in this year's British and Irish Lions squad.

Russell is renowned for attacking flair but the ex-Lions coach says the fly-half showed kicking acumen in Paris.

"I would take Finn Russell because you sometimes need that little bit of magic," added McGeechan.

"But he showed again in Paris that he is a very good tactical kicker.

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster's Sportsound, McGeechan added: "You sometimes need that little bit of magic particularly against South Africa to break a game up but also have a kicking structure and variety that puts them under pressure and I thought he showed it again particularly in the first half against France last night."

Russell's superb kicking helped turn France's back three with long, raking kicks, penning them deep in their own half during the first quarter as Scotland crucially stayed in the game.

Red card took little gloss off Russell display

The Scotland fly-half was sent off in the 70th minute for a forearm into the throat of Brice Dulin, as he attempted to fend off the France full-back, before Duhan van der Merwe's last-gasp try earned Gregor Townsend's side a famous 27-23 victory.

Racing 92 star Russell, 28, joined the last Lions during the 2017 tour to New Zealand as cover.

Four-time Lions head coach McGeechan believes Warren Gatland is likely to take three fly-halves to South Africa and that Ireland's Johnny Sexton will be "at the front of his thoughts" after his display in the thumping Six Nations win over England.

McGeechan added that Owen Farrell also remains a strong candidate to travel despite England's hugely disappointing fifth-place finish in the Six Nations.

"Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton have got that Lions experience. Farrell on the last tour played at 12 which I think does help him.

Johnny Sexton starred in Ireland's thumping win over England - which included him kicking 22 points
McGeechan believes Johnny Sexton's Lions selection is virtually assured after his performance against England last weekend

"He's one player who responds in that Lions environment when he's playing with other good players that he doesn't play with on a regular basis."

McGeechan added that the rejuvenated Dan Biggar would inevitably be in the selection frame following his displays for champions Wales.

"Dan Biggar has come on to the scene (again) particularly in this tournament

"I think [Gatland] will take three [fly-halves] because there ultimately could be four Test matches depending on how the fixtures pan out.

"There are going to be back-to-back Test matches which are a big call on anybody. Who will miss out? I'm pleased he's got to make that decision and not me."

Gatland's side are scheduled to tour South Africa this summer, with Tests on 24 and 31 July and 7 August, although there have been suggestions that a fourth Test could be added to the schedule.

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