At 2.03-metre, lock Mike Russell was the lynchpin of the Hurricanes lineout in 1996 and 1997. He was one of five founding players to play in every game in 1996 - the other four were Tana Umaga, and front rowers Mark Allen, Norm Hewitt and Phil Coffin.
He moved to Hamilton to attend university and played 37 times for Waikato between 1989 and 1993, Highlights including playing in All Black trials in 1992 and 1993 and being involved in Waikato’s NPC winning side in 1992. Russell then moved to Wellington and earned 47 caps for the Wellington Lions between 1994-1997.
He made the Hurricanes for the first three years of Super 12, but injury kept him sidelined throughout all of 1998 in New Zealand. He then returned to his club in the south of France called Valence d’Agen for a final stint, whom he had played started for during his Waikato days.