Gregor Townsend’s side have a maximum 10 points after victories over England and Wales, the first time in 27 years that the Scots have won their opening two games in the championship. They face France in Paris on Sunday then Ireland at Murrayfield on March 12, the two sides currently ranked second and first in the world, before completing their campaign at home to Italy on March 18.
Russell felt Scotland played well in parts against England and Wales but did not deliver a complete 80-minute performance in either. The stand-off, who plays in Paris for Racing 92, has warned that the French will be going into this weekend’s match knowing they need to win to keep their title hopes alive. Last season’s grand slam champions lost 32-19 to Ireland in Dublin in round two, conceding four tries in the process. Russell believes this has led to some in Scotland writing France off but the playmaker has cautioned against such talk.
“In terms of winning the title this year, it's funny, anyone you chat to from Scotland, they’re saying the Ireland game is going to be massive, and I’m thinking, ‘yeah, but we've still got France in France this week’. Yes, we’ve won two games but I don't personally think that was the best performances from England or Wales. So yeah, we beat both of those teams but I think France and Ireland will be so much harder.”
Speaking to the BBC’s Rugby Union Daily podcast with Ugo Monye and Chris Jones, Russell said he felt there was still a lot more to come from this Scotland side who have scored more tries - nine - than any other team in the tournament this season and are second in the standings, level on match points with leaders Ireland but three behind on points differential.
“We’ve obviously beaten England and have got maximum points, but we only really played in the second half of that game,” said Russell. “Against Wales we played for 50-60 minutes, if that. In the first half we were decent enough but nothing amazing, and we came out good in the second half. It’s exciting because we’ve got maximum points and we’ve not played to our potential yet. But it’s easy to say that if we play to that potential against France then we’ll beat them but we’ve not done it in the first two games. So there’s a lot we need to work on this week to make sure, I think more so mentally more than anything. France are coming off the back of a loss so if they don’t win this game then they’re out of the running. They’re at home, they’re the number two team in the world and they’ve got so much X-factor, so if we’re mentally not there or don’t prepare mentally enough this week then I don’t think we’ll be able to win. We have to get it right mentally more so than physically.”