Scotland: Gregor Townsend confirms Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell ‘rested’ for Argentina tour

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend insists that it is the right moment to give his star players some time off after omitting Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg from his squad to tour South America.

Russell and Hogg, who have been key cogs in the side for several years, were surprise absentees from the 40-man group to face Argentina in a three-match Test series.

Chris Harris has also been given the summer off and Townsend believes that all three players, who toured with the British & Irish Lions last year, need time to recover ahead of the 2023 World Cup.

World Cup the priority

“The Lions was a huge commitment and it’s affected players in different ways this year,” Townsend. “When you achieve something of that level, and the commitment you put into making it happen, and then the length of the tour itself – seven weeks and playing all the way through to August – some of those players have played a lot of rugby this year.

“We looked at individuals, where they are at the end of this season, where they are in terms of their career, and whether the best thing for them was to be on tour or to have some time off. Some regulars over the last 12-24 months weren’t considered for those reasons.

“Once we set out that we believe the best thing for Stuart, Finn and Chris is not touring, they accepted that. They’ve played the most minutes of all our players this year. When you put that on the back of them having the longest seasons last year it became more clear to us that a summer off would be the best thing for them.

“That might have been different if we didn’t have what is coming up the following season. This time next year we’ll be in a World Cup camp playing three or four warm-up games before we go on to the World Cup so it’s going to be a demanding period for them all next year. On the back of the last 12-18 months, we feel it’s right for them not to tour.”

Asked whether the recent disciplinary matter involving Russell and Hogg was a factor in their absence, Townsend replied: “No, no. To be honest, a lot of what needed to be sorted out and discussed had already happened that week behind closed doors before the public found out on the Friday. We moved on fairly quickly from that.

“It was just a reminder – a positive reminder – that we needed to talk about why we’re here and we’ll do that more as we go to camp next week.”

Grant Gilchrist will take over the Scotland captaincy for the upcoming games against Argentina but Townsend envisages Hogg returning as skipper for the November series.

“Yeah, I hope so,” he said. “I’ve said that to Stuart. Obviously a lot can happen between now and November.

“We’ve been really lucky that Stuart’s been available for us mostly throughout the last four or five years. He’s played really well for us and been an excellent captain.

“There are things he needs to work on as a leader, just like he needs to work on things as a player, just like I need to work on a few things as a coach. He’s earned the right for a rest this summer.”

READ MORE: No space for Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell in Gregor Townsend’s 40-man squad

The article Scotland: Gregor Townsend confirms Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell ‘rested’ for Argentina tour appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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