Rus­sell leads the tributes

Stand-off em­pha­sises play­ers’ re­spect for New Zealan­der as coach and man. By Stu­art Bath­gate

Sunday Herald - - 19.03.17 SPORT -

IT IS one mea­sure of the good work done by Vern Cot­ter in his three years in charge of Scot­land that some play­ers who had not even played a Test be­fore then are now firmly es­tab­lished as front-rank in­ter­na­tion­als. At the end of the New Zealan­der’s fi­nal game at the helm, it was fit­ting that one of those play­ers, Finn Rus­sell, should pay trib­ute to the head coach.

The stand-off scored one of Scot­land’s four tries in the 29-0 rout of Italy and added three con­ver­sions, as well as show­ing his usual en­thu­si­asm for the de­fen­sive chores.

Rus­sell and his team-mates had been told all week that they were not to in­dulge in chat about giv­ing Cot­ter a suitable send-off, but with that fi­nal en­counter out of the way he was more than happy to do so. “It was good go­ing out there and send­ing him off as well as we could have,” Rus­sell said. “He’s done so well for the team – it’s dis­ap­point­ing see­ing him go­ing, but we had a good game to­day so hope­fully he’s happy with that.

“The sort of coach and the man he is, we have so much re­spect for him that it was a good game to send him off. We’ve grown so much in the last three years.

“Al­though the coaches are chang­ing, I’d imag­ine the team will stay the same: we have a good core of play­ers.”

With so many of them play­ing for Glas­gow War­riors, Rus­sell in­cluded, there will be a strong el­e­ment of con­ti­nu­ity when Gre­gor Townsend moves from Scot­stoun to Mur­ray­field in the sum­mer.

“Gre­gor will bring new things in and he’ll try and adapt what’s here a lit­tle bit,” Rus­sell added. “The Glas­gow boys will know what’s to come; the other boys will have to learn pretty quickly. But hav­ing the core boys here, it’ll still be a good, strong team and hope­fully we’ll be able to build on that with Gre­gor com­ing in.”

Cot­ter him­self was qui­etly sat­is­fied with the solid per­for­mance that saw him end his time as Scot­land coach with a win­ning record. Hav­ing recorded 19 vic­to­ries and 17 de­feats, he is the first coach of the na­tional team in the pro­fes­sional era to have more than a 50 per cent suc­cess rate.

“I’m very pleased, com­ing from a game at Twick­en­ham that didn’t fall our way, to keep a team try­less,” he said. “The three wins is great. It’s a re­flec­tion of the work

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