Finn Russell’s insistence on waiting until after Scotland’s Calcutta Cup clash against England before giving his take on why he has ended up in exile from the Scotland camp demonstrates his continued commitment to the cause despite the fact there appears to be no realistic prospect of him returning to the fold any time soon. He was determined not to disrupt his team-mates’ preparation for the game any more than has already been the case.

The 27-year-old had kept a dignified silence on the whole affair up until yesterday’s interview in The Sunday Times, while the Scottish Rugby Union have pushed hard at a narrative along the lines of Russell refusing to abide by squad protocol and being so desperate to have a drink on his first night in camp that he fell out with his team-mates and marched out in a huff. The underlying implication being that his commitment to playing for Scotland is questionable – which is a hell of a lot to put on a young guy, especially if, by the SRU’s own logic, he is a vulnerable character.

The impression from reading the interview is that Russell is not that vulnerable after all. In fact, while he is deeply troubled by the situation, he is also certain in his own mind that he has acted in his own and the team’s best interests. This is not down to that third drink he wanted to order, but rather a longer-standing and deeper-rooted fracture in his relationship with head coach Gregor Townsend, and a belief that the overall environment in the Scotland camp needs to change for the benefit of everyone involved.

It is not a black and white issue. Russell is not sole arbiter of how the national team should be run, but he raises some fundamental points that must be addressed properly as a matter of urgency so that he and the team can move on – either together or separately.

The key question relates to Townsend’s ability to strike the balance required between running the show and giving the professional athletes in his squad the ‘respect and trust’ that Russell feels is currently missing. It is easy to say that these people are paid to do a job and should be honoured to get the chance to wear the thistle, but international rugby is a hugely intense environment, and players need to be 100 percent bought into what the whole team is trying to achieve. It is not a case of choosing – they have to feel it.

Townsend deserves sympathy here, too. It is inconceivable that he set out to end up in this place, and a lack of support from his employers should be addressed.

The SRU were without a director of rugby from the end of the last Six Nations right through the World Cup and up until the start of January, when Jim Mallinder finally took on the role, meaning the coach had no senior rugby figure helping him deal with the big issues he faces in this most demanding of roles … such as a star player who has already made it clear that he has misgivings about the way the team is being run.

Neither was there a proper review after Scotland’s early World Cup exit last October, which would surely have identified the time-bomb of Russell’s rapidly deteriorating relationship with Townsend and addressed the situation before the almost inevitable explosion.

As it is, the Scotland team looks set to be without one of the most exciting and potent attacking players in the world game for the foreseeable future – which is a ludicrous situation for a small country not overly blessed with playing resources.