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Finn Russell given licence to thrill in final for Bath after Bahamas break
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Finn Russell given licence to thrill in final for Bath after Bahamas break

Whisked off to the Bahamas by a multimillionaire, escorted from island to island in a speedboat and strapped to a machine described as a probe that heats muscles from the inside – Finn Russell’s recent trip to the Caribbean is beginning to sound like the plot to the latest Bond film.

As with much of Russell’s career, however, the truth is stranger than fiction. Bath’s marquee signing and star fly-half suffered what the club would call only a “serious groin injury” in early April. He had, in fact, ruptured his adductor longus and torn an abdominal muscle and, such has been Russell’s impact in his first season at the Rec, Bath’s playoff pursuit was suddenly in danger of unravelling.

The club’s owner, Bruce Craig, had other ideas. He flew Russell and a Bath physio to the Bahamas for some welcome sun, sea and sand but more importantly a rehabilitation programme that would allow him to use a machine that had worked wonders on a similar injury sustained when at Racing 92. Ultimately it led to his comeback ahead of schedule before the end of the regular season and, as a result, Russell has licence to thrill in Saturday’s Premiership final against Northampton.

“When I got injured Bruce wanted to take me out there. There is a machine that he uses actually for himself but a machine they use to heal,” says Russell. “I don’t understand it, you have a little patch on your back that is connected to the machine and there is a probe that they use on the injured area and I think the connection between the pad on your back heats the muscle on the inside. I did that for about an hour and a half, I am sure a bit of Deep Heat would have been fine!

“It was an hour-and-a-half physio in the morning and the evening, there was training on the pitch with the physio and gym and rehab. It was pretty full-on, more full-on than I thought it was going to be actually. I think we spent about half an hour on the beach.”

Knowing Russell, he would have found time to enjoy his salubrious surroundings too and the break has evidently done him the world of good. He ended a disappointing World Cup campaign with Scotland by throwing himself into his first campaign with Bath and judging by the manner in which he steered his side past Sale in last weekend’s semi-final, he is feeling no after-effects of the injury.

Finn Russell celebrates after beating Sale.View image in fullscreen

“Bruce goes out for dinner most nights so we had a few nice meals out,” adds Russell. “Then we went to a different island, on a day off we went to a couple of different islands, where Bruce and I and a few of his mates had a boat. It was a speedboat, the guys on it were saying it goes 70mph, which is quite fast. It was good fun – a long day.

“The trip was good. I have the house with my daughter at home and when you are getting rehab here, you are not really focusing on that when you get home at night. When I went over there it was so focused on getting better, which was good. My partner wanted to come but it was strictly business. Having that time away and a bit of heat for it as well was probably quite good.”

Strictly business is not a bad way to sum up Russell’s first season at Bath. Of course there have been occasions when he has shown his array of mercurial talents, his mischievous streak too – when shushing the Shed – but the 31-year-old fly-half is playing with pragmatism too under Johann van Graan. It has taken Bath to their first Premiership final since 2015 and Russell to within a match of his first winners’ medal since helping Glasgow win the Pro12 nine years ago.

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“I didn’t know what it would be like coming to play for a team that was from a rugby city,” says Russell. “People chat to you, but it is not over the top, they are friendly. You get a sense of how desperately they want us to do well. Whether that is winning it this year or getting to the final, I think everyone seems to be enjoying the way we are playing and whether we win it or not, it is the step in the right direction to get this club where it can be again.

“I have only been in three finals and won one. Hopefully, we win at the weekend and the record goes up to 50% from 33%. I have had a brilliant career already, but I think I would like to get some more silverware and have that alongside your name. I think the later I am getting in my career, the more I want to get something. It doesn’t come around that often, so I think when you get chances like we have at the weekend it is about capitalising and making sure we win it.”

Source: theguardian.com