FINN RUSSELL wants to be the Lions’ perfect 10 and bury his controversial ‘Geography Six’ tag from 2017.
The Scotland star became the 835th player to pull on the famous red shirt in New Zealand – even though Boss Warren Gatland didn’t want to throw him on.
Racing 92 star Russell was drafted in with five other players to warm the bench and protect the Test side from being involved ahead of the final two games in the All Blacks series.
So never did a debut cause such a stink when Russell replaced concussed Dan Biggar in the 31-31 draw with Super Rugby champs the Hurricanes.
Now, the mid-week pair are battling for a Test start against South Africa.
And looking back to that wild rollercoaster after jetting in from Scotland’s tour in Australia, Russell said: “You’re there for 10 days you were chucked straight in.
“I think the day after we arrived we had to prepare for a game, so it was one day of prep and away you go.
“It’s better this time, to get the language, the shape of the plays and stuff, getting used to the other guys, what they like, and they’ll get used to me.
“You come in with a different mindset. It’s good coming back this time from the start.
“It’s a very different situation from last time, it’s good to be here from the start and I’m looking forward to being out there.”
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Playmaker Russell’s silky-skills could be the TNT needed to blast apart the Springboks’ route-one tactics.
But he also wants Gatland to trust him to control them like a puppet-master if needed with a much tighter playbook.
The 28-year-old who has been billed as rugby’s ultimate maverick said: “It’s one of these things that has been said since I came through.
“At Scotland then at Glasgow it was an open game, so that’s where the tag came from. It’s kind of just stuck. It doesn’t bother me.
“If I see it’s on I have confidence in my skills I will always have a crack. You’ve got to make a decision in a split second of what’s best to do.
“If the space is there I’m not afraid to have a go and try something, whether it’s a miss pass or whatever.
“That’ll come depending on how we’re going to play the game in South Africa.
“You get a feel for the risk-reward options and how we’re going to play the game.
“Against the world champs, you’re not going to get many opportunities, so when we get them we’ve got to be clinical and take them.
“It’s about having a good kicking and tactical game. If we give Cheslin Kolbe or Willie le Roux easy ball to run back, we’re going to be in a lot of trouble.
“We know how dangerous they are.
“Everything will be about being as clinical as we can and having a good balance to the game.”
Russell is expected to feature against the Emirates Lions at the iconic Ellis Park on Saturday after working this week with his Scotland boss Townsend on their attacking master-plan.
And he added: “I’ll be working closely with Gregor on the attacking side of things.
“We’ve got a really good understanding so I will be chatting with him about the plays we have and how we want to attack.
“It comes down to the analysis, the prep we do before the game, so that if I see an opportunity that could open up I can go for them.”