THERE was much optimism at the weekend when Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend revealed that exiled fly-half Finn Russell was due to take part in a coaches meeting via conference call to aid Scotland's preparation for their clash with France this weekend, but it appears that optimism was somewhat premature.

Russell and Townsend have been at loggerheads since the Racing 92 man walked out of the Scotland camp ahead of the side's opening Six Nations fixture six weeks ago. However, the head coach revealed he had taken part in "positive" conversations with Russell, and that the 27-year-old was even going to call into a coaches meeting from Paris on Monday to impart his knowledge of the French players ahead of their visit to Murrayfield on Sunday.

However, assistant coach Danny Wilson revealed that the planned conference call with Russell ended up not happening as a change of timings from the Scotland coaches meant that the player was no longer available to take part as planned.

"We had to change our timings yesterday, which didn’t work out for us to be able to fulfil it as a conference call," said Wilson.

"We couldn’t (do the call) in terms of timings for Finn and the coaching group. Our coaching meeting changes from the original time, it was supposed to be earlier in the day and then it became later in the day."

However, there has been further contact between Russell and Townsend, with the fly-half still apparently keen to give his input to help the Scotland team's cause and Wilson remains hopeful a resolution to this impasse between the pair can be reached.

"(Finn has had input) through communications with Gregor, yes, but not as a conference call, just becomes our timings changed and didn’t fit," Wilson went on.

"There has been a fair but of communication back and forth, which is obviously a real positive forward step.

"And hopefully there will be some more communication – but it wasn’t done in the (conference call) format yesterday, it was done more through a one-on-one conversation with Gregor.

"As far as I know, they have been communicating back and forth, but the good thing about that is obviously there is some positive communication which will hopefully lead to a long-term positive outcome in terms of Finn’s involvement. But I think that process will be ongoing."

Scotland have more pressing matters at hand though, as the task of derailing France's grand slam hopes this weekend loom large.

The French have been extremely impressive in their three victories so far this Six Nations, but with Scotland claiming their first win of the tournament last weekend in Rome, the mood in the Scottish camp is buoyant.

Wilson may have been satisfied with the win against Italy but he is under no illusions that his men must improve further if they are to claim another win on Sunday.

"You come in off the back of a win and that gives everyone a bit more of a spring in their step," said Wilson, who has been part of the Scotland set-up since 2018.

"That said, we've been pretty honest with the appraisal of the goods, and there were plenty of positives in going to Italy and getting a good win and keeping the opposition to nil was important, as were getting a few things back into place that maybe didn't function against England.

"But likewise there's plenty to build on – there were a couple of opportunities that went begging out there. So maybe we could have been looking down the barrel of a bonus point and coming away with four or five tries but unfortunately we didn't finish a couple of opportunities, with one try disallowed and one dropped over the line, amongst others.

"We've got to nail those in big games to get away from sides. It was enough to do a job on Italy but we want to go up another notch, and we know we'll need to go up a notch to beat a very good French side."