Finn Russell is looking forward to the challenge of facing England’s new blitz defence when the two sides meet for the Calcutta Cup at Scottish Gas Murrayfield tomorrow.  

England now have Felix Jones, the man who masterminded the Springboks defensive set-up to two World Cup titles, as their defence coach and he has brought that same ‘blitz’ approach to Steve Borthwick’s side.  

The visitors will look to shut down Russell and his midfield colleagues, as Jacques Nienaber’s side did so successfully in South Africa’s World Cup win over Scotland in Marseille.  

Russell admitted Scotland have looked at the World Cup defeat and knows there are lessons to be learned going into round three of the Six Nations.  

He said: “We have looked back and talked about that game, and obviously looked at England’s first two games of this campaign. I think our learnings from the World Cup were not to go into our shells if we do feel the pressure.  

“There were chances in that game against South Africa that we probably never saw on the pitch. We just need to have belief in ourselves and trust the work we’ve put in and stay on task.  

“At times we will be under pressure and it will be tough, but we can fall back to what we have done this week and the last few weeks building up to this game.  

“We can have belief and confidence in ourselves and hopefully we can take the chances that will be out there.” 

Russell said getting front foot ball is key to slowing England’s line speed.  

“If you get really quick ball on the front foot, it’s easier,” the 31-year-old added. 

“If you are on the back foot and slightly out of position, it’s tough. A blitz defence can get a lot of rewards on the back of it through mistakes if they catch you behind the gain line.” 

Scotland Rugby News: Finn Russell was put under pressure by South Africa during the World CupFinn Russell was put under pressure by South Africa during the World Cup (Image: SNS)

Whereas South Africa use their back-row players in behind the defensive line as a “safety net” if the opposition do break through, Russell said he’s not yet seen that part of Jones’ system implemented by England.  

That could give Scotland opportunities, whether with their short kicking game, or by using their wingers.  

Russell added: “I’ve not seen enough of the last two England games and teams getting round them and that safety net coming across so hopefully we can get round them or through them tomorrow.” 

England will believe that if they can negate the threats of the two-times British and Irish Lions tourist, they will go a long way to stopping Scotland’s attack.  

Russell says he’s ready for whatever they throw his way.  

The co-captain added: “I’m not sure what England are going to do – if they are going to fire out the line and try to take me out or shut me down from the outside. That is something we will have to figure out in the game.  

“We will have to be able to adapt, with myself and Sione and Huw being on the same page and having Blair out wide as another option.  

“If they try to shut me down, then we might have to go through Sione [Tuipulotu], Huw [Jones] or Blair [Kinghorn].  

“Although the 10 controls a lot of the attack, it is not just down to me to create things. We will be looking to other boys to get away from them.” 

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The return from a knee injury of Kinghorn – comfortable stepping into the fly-half role - is a boost for Scotland. It gives them another playmaking option if England do manage to shut down Russell.  

“Kyle [Rowe] and Harry [Paterson] have been brilliant, but Blair is a different player to those boys. He’s got more experience than them, which I think will be helpful this weekend. He’s 6ft 5in as well, so he should be good in the aerial battle. 

Scotland Rugby News: Blair Kinghorn is back for ScotlandBlair Kinghorn is back for Scotland (Image: SNS)

“It will be great having him back out there. It allows myself to play my game, knowing that if something happens Blair can fill in and he can jump into that 10 slot. It’s great to have him back.” 

Russell said a win gets Scotland’s campaign back on track after the disappointment of defeat to France last time out.  

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"In the last couple of campaigns we’ve won three of the past five games but we’re looking to progress from that and to do that we have to win the next three games which is no easy feat.  

“That’s our goal as a team, to keep progressing year-on-year and after the disappointment against France we need to do our best to beat England and build on that in the last two games.” 

Scotland haven’t won four on the bounce against England since the 1970s, and haven’t won four in the championship for more than 130 years.  

They’ve lost just one of the past five meetings, and Russell said Scotland’s recent run in the fixture has given his team a boost.  

He said: “It does give us confidence. But I think the England team since the last Six Nations have changed a lot - they’ve got a new defence coach and their style of rugby is different. The players have changed.  

“England had a great World Cup and they’ve started off this tournament winning two out of two, so as good as it is to have won the last four out of five, I don’t think that really counts for anything this weekend.”