Finn Russell reckons Scotland will benefit from having burgeoning backs Ben White and Blair Kinghorn plying their trade at the top level in France.
Scrum-half White, 25, joined Challenge Cup winners Toulon after the World Cup following the demise of London Irish, while 26-year-old full-back Kinghorn moved from boyhood club Edinburgh to Top 14 giants Toulouse earlier this month.
Russell returned to the UK to join Bath this season after establishing himself as one of the top stand-offs in the world during five fruitful years in France with Racing 92.
𝐖𝐞𝐥𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐓𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐨𝐧 @BenWhite_98
— RCT – RC Toulon (@RCTofficiel) October 9, 2023
The 31-year-old believes it can only be a good thing for Scotland to have two key players – both of whom scored tries in the Champions Cup last weekend – spending their prime years in a league he holds in the highest regard.
“I think it’s good moves for the two of them, they’ll have great fun playing over there,” Russell told the PA news agency. “They’ll learn a lot and they’ll be challenged in a way they probably won’t have experienced before with the language, the lifestyle and the style of rugby.
“But I think both of them will adapt really well and they’ll grow as players as well as men. They’ll get to learn about the French mentality, French rugby and the individuals.
“That’s knowledge that you don’t really get until you’re out there playing. It will be great for the national team and it will be brilliant for the two guys personally.”
While Scotland have no issue with their players moving overseas, Rugby Football Union rules do not allow those based abroad to be selected for England.
That means 21-year-old winger Henry Arundell – who featured for Steve Borthwick’s side at the World Cup – will no longer be able to be picked for his country after this week extending his contract with Racing until 2026.
Russell is thankful he did not have to consider such a scenario when he moved to the Paris club from Glasgow in 2018.
“I don’t know what it’s like to be an Englishman and rule yourself out for playing for the national team but that’s obviously a decision he’s happy to live with,” said the Scotland talisman.
“He must be loving it out there. I was in Paris for five years and I loved every minute of it so I can understand why he’s staying.
“He’ll grow as a person and be challenged in a way he probably wouldn’t be over here with the language and the lifestyle. He’ll love it out there and I can understand his decision to stay.”
Russell will be reunited with some familiar faces next month when Bath host Racing – with Arundell in tow – and then visit Kinghorn’s Toulouse the following weekend in the Champions Cup.
“It will be good fun,” he said. “It will be different playing against Racing having been there for five years but I just need to treat it as another game.
“I can’t get caught up in the mental side of playing against my old team. Toulouse is another great place to go and play, especially in a European game, so I’m looking forward to both of those games.”