FINN RUSSELL will be hoping to be rock solid for Scotland in the Six Nations this year.
And he is desperate to chisel out a first title for his country since way back in 1999.
Russell’s “amazing journey” to co-captaining for Gregor Townsend at the Six Nations, though, started with a very different career as a stonemasonry apprentice.
He comes from a sporting family – his grandparents played badminton internationally while his uncle and great-grandfather represented Scotland in cricket.
But after leaving school, the Bridge of Allan star spent three years earning £300 per week labouring hard and learning his craft.
His dream of cutting out a career out of professional rugby appeared over, picking up £50 to turn out for Falkirk as recently as 2012.
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Shortly after, Russell quit his stonemasonry course to accept a £10,000 annual salary as a rugby apprentice with his parents covering his monthly car payments.
He said: “On rainy days it could be pretty miserable. It could be tough but I enjoyed it.
“I’d be making windowsills, door frames, fireplaces – even building walls. But compared to playing rugby, it’s night and day.
“If I ever have a bad day at training, I think back to what it was like working in that cold shed.”
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In 2015, Russell added to The Herald: “I’ve still got a year of my apprenticeship left – it’s quite annoying, actually.
“After the World Cup I hope to get back into that and try and get it finished. It would be good to get the ticket so I’ve got that done.
“I’ve done all the college work so I just need to serve my time.”
After appearing for Scotland at the World Rugby Under-20 Championships, the rough diamond was granted the John Macphail Scholarship at Lincoln University in New Zealand.
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Russell returned to Glasgow Warriors, making his first-team debut during the 2013 Six Nations.
The following year Russell earned his senior Scotland bow and by the 2015 Six Nations, he had cemented himself as the first-choice No10 and goes into this year’s tournament with three World Cups and 75 caps under his belt.
The fly-half stayed in Scotland until 2018 before five years in France as Racing 92 saw he had the raw materials to be All Blacks legend Dan Carter’s replacement.
Last year, though, the one-time Lions ace returned to British soil by joining Bath – and now Scotland have scrubbed up well to have a chance at springing a surprise in the Six Nations this time around.
Away from the pitch, Russell and long-term partner and heptathlete Emma Canning welcomed their baby daughter Charlie in November 2022.