DEFENSIVE co-ordinators and coaches in top-level rugby deliver the same message time and time again whenever they are faced by world-class players, namely, don’t give them time to think. Unfortunately, almost exactly two years ago, Finn Russell had plenty of time to ponder, and the net result of the Scotland stand-off’s deliberations means that now he could be just 80 minutes away from finishing his time at Glasgow Warriors.

He hopes his stay is extended by at least another game after Glasgow’s crunch PRO14 semi-final against Scarlets on Friday. But, whatever happens, Russell will bid farewell to Scotstoun this week, with his next stop Paris and a lucrative contract with Racing 92, albeit his journey could be via the Aviva Stadium for a PRO14 finale.

A return to Dublin would be somewhat ironic. It was in a bed in the city’s Beaumont Hospital that Russell, rather like the way he plays, decided to throw off the shackles and go for it.

Then just 23, Russell had suffered a serious head injury after a sickening clash of heads with team-mate Zander Fagerson during the PRO12 semi-final against Connacht in Galway. But while he may have been concussed and dazed, Russell’s clarity of thought was as devastating as his running from open play.

“Getting my head injury opened my eyes to how quickly our game can be over, so this [Racing 92 deal] was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down.

“If I go there and don’t like it then that’s what it is, but at least I’ve gone there and tried it, and had that experience, and can always look back on it,” he said. “And I’ll still be 28 when I finish up there, so still young enough that I can hopefully come back here and get a game.

“The severity of the injury makes you think of these things. Thankfully, nothing came of it and I was fine, but you do wonder what might have happened, and so you don’t want to be looking back in 10 years’ time thinking ‘oh I wish I took that chance I had to go to France and play’.”

Some naysayers see his switch to Paris, where he already has a flat waiting (but not the swimming pool, the Lamborghini or even his heptathlete girlfriend Emma Canning as some have wrongly speculated) as a gamble. Not so Russell. Career-wise, the biggest chance he took was walking out of his third year as an apprentice stonemason to pursue a professional rugby career.

He left behind his tools (although his parents have custody of them, just in case), £300 a week, plus 50 notes from Falkirk who took a chance on him when Stirling County didn’t rate him as a 10, all swapped for £10,000 a year in the Glasgow academy and back living with maw and paw, who gave him a bed and paid off his car loan. And the rest is history.

“My biggest kind of gamble, more an opportunity, was leaving my stonemasonry to come here. I was only in my third year and so left without finishing off my time. Going to Racing is slightly different. It was too good an opportunity to turn down then and it is the same with Racing. It’s such an opportunity for me and probably since I started at Glasgow I’ve thought I’d love to play in France at some point.

“That is the main reason I went, for my rugby. I have been at Glasgow for six years which has been amazing for me. However, I feel that I want to go and get some new challenges and almost put myself outside the comfort zone and see how I react. I think that is going to be best for me; a different language, a different culture, a different style of rugby over there that will challenge me.

“I’ve thought about that but the way I play is why I decided to go to France and not England, or anywhere else. I have been over to Racing a few times and it seems like a great club, a great family club as well which I am looking forward to.

“The style of rugby they play over there is free-flowing and open, a lot of off-loading and lots of chances for being creative.

If you look at the players at Racing it’s a great team with world-class individuals so for me, if I get a game with that team, it will be great to get a run about with those boys and it should sit well with my style I think.

“I spoke to Greig [Laidlaw] a lot and he says that coming back after [training] speaking French for a day he’s knackered. I think it is going to be pretty tough work but I think for me that is going to be good.”

And the reported £500,000-a-year contract won’t be bad either.

Before then, there is unfinished business to be completed against the Welsh visitors on Friday in what has been a good season on many fronts for the British Lion.

“There are always a lot of highlights. I don’t know which ones to pick out,” he says. “I’ve enjoyed this season. The Exeter game was one of the most pleasing games we had because we played so well. Although we didn’t do that well in Europe we still managed to finish off on a good game and we went into the Six Nations, which a lot of the Glasgow guys were involved in.

“We know what the stakes are – you win, you’re on to the final and lose and it’s season over, and while it’s maybe not a failure as such, you definitely haven’t reached the goals you set out with at the start of the season.

“Hopefully, I have two games left but the semi-final will be my last home game no matter what and I am looking forward to running out in front of the crowd here at Scotstoun, it should be good fun. It’s a great stadium to play at. My professional career started here.”

And could his farewell get a bit emotional?

“Nah, it’s not a concern for me. It’s another game of rugby,” says Russell. “Although there will be a lot of emotion around it, I am not too fussed by that. I am just going there to do my job and get it done. Emotions are for after the game when it has all sunk in. Like most things, it won’t sink in until you’ve had a few days to think about it. I should be alright – I think.”