FINN RUSSELL insists he is up for the ‘challenge’ of succeeding All Blacks legend Dan Carter after his move to French side Racing 92 for next season was confirmed.
The Scotland stand-off visited the Paris club on Tuesday and indicated he felt it was time for a change of environment after six seasons with Glasgow Warriors.
Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson confessed they could not compete with the ‘superstar money’ on offer to Russell in France.
But the 25-year-old revealed his exciting switch was instead motivated by the prospect of domestic and European honours and by stepping into the boots of Carter, who is leaving Racing to join Kobelco Steelers in Japan next summer.
He said: “I have had the chance to play six seasons in Glasgow but, for me, for my progress, I felt it was time to change the environment.
“Like any rugby player my goal is to win. I want to win titles with Racing. It is a club determined to play as many finals as possible and to win, and which has the chance to do it!
“It’s really my main goal, and Racing has all the potential to win the Champions Cup or Top 14. I cannot wait to help them win.
“It’s a great club, I’m looking forward to settling down and playing with my new team-mates, as well as working with the coaches and all the staff.”
Russell won huge praise for the way he outplayed Carter with Warriors and, despite disappointment at not getting the chance to learn from the New Zealander, insists he is ready to step into his breach, along with recently-signed South African fly-half Pat Lambie.
Russell added: “I’ve faced Dan a few times and I know he’s one of the best players in the world today.
“He has really done great things here, I feel the love that the club has for him.
“I did not really think about Dan’s departure, I thought maybe he would still be there and I would have learned a lot from him.
“For me, to come play and have the same job as Pat to succeed him, is a beautiful challenge, really rewarding. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Russell’s trip to France came just days after a scintillating performance in helping Scotland put Australia to the sword in a record 53-24 victory and he described the experience as ‘magical’.
In an interview with the Racing website, Russell said: “It was an incredible match for us. The guys and I played our best rugby, in line with what we had to do with the All Blacks. It was really exceptional.
“Plus, the atmosphere in Murrayfield is really unique, it’s a great stadium, I love to play there. This whole week has been magical.”