Townsend fears talent exodus

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Scotland coach Gregor Townsend fears that an exodus of top Scottish talent could inflict serious damage on the national side's progress.

This, after the news that star playmaker Finn Russell would be leaving Glasgow Warriors to join Racing 92 in Paris.

Fellow internationals Greig Laidlaw and Richie Gray already ply their trade in France while players such as Sean Maitland and John Barclay play elsewhere in Britain – though Barclay is set to move back to Edinburgh.

And Townsend admits it is much 'tougher' for the national side when players are playing outside of Scotland especially when it comes to getting permission from clubs for the release of players.

"The better thing for the national team is more people playing in Scotland," he told Sport24.

"If more and more players leave Scotland, it will be much tougher. A huge reason Ireland have been successful is their players are in the same area, playing in Ireland and building up combinations and connections.

"Obviously we wish Finn all the best. We have two players currently injured in France who were likely to be in our squad – in Richie and Greig – and we'll now have a third but you've got to make sure there's not too many players leaving Scotland."

Townsend has made four changes to his side for Saturday's clash with Australia after the narrow 22-17 defeat to New Zealand last Saturday.

He said: "We play the current number three team in the world, and arguably the best attacking team in the world.

"Australia beat New Zealand a few weeks ago, were very good against Wales and for a lot of the game on a wet day against England, so we know we're playing one of the form teams in the world right now.

"If we drop our standards, we're not going to win."