ADAM HASTINGS is still waiting to find out when his disciplinary hearing for the red card he received during Glasgow Warriors’ defeat to Leinster on Sunday night will take place.
According to PRO14 rules, his case should be heard within seven days of the incident, but it usually happens quicker than that. The uncertainty will be a headache for national team head coach Gregor Townsend, who will want to know whether he should figure the playmaker into his plans for next Sunday’s Six Nations clash against Ireland at Murrayfield, however club coach Danny Wilson appeared relaxed about the situation when he spoke to the press earlier today [Tuesday].
“We’ll just have to wait and see how they view that one,” he said. “He was off balance, toppling backwards and his leg came up in front of him. That left his foot in a dangerous position for the next guy coming in. We understand the safety element and that by the letter of the law it’s probably a red card, but there was no intent there.”
Wilson added that he is perfectly comfortable with the alternative No10 options he can call upon at the moment, with 21-year-old Ross Thompson having taken to the pro game like a duck to water during his one start and three bench appearances since the turn of the year, while veteran Irish stand-off Ian Keatley is also expected to make his first appearance in Warriors colours since joining the club from Benetton in mid-January on a contract to the end of the season.
“That was the reason we brought Ian in,” said Wilson. “We probably got Adam more than we thought over these two games because he came back quicker than we expected from injury. It’s always great to have somebody back early so credit to our medical team for what they did there, but he would probably have come into Scotland’s reckoning pretty quickly so we didn’t think we would have him for very long. As it happens, there’s a good chance we won’t have him for different reasons now, so to have Ross and Keats is great.
“Keats has been great for Ross to help him develop behind the scenes. Sometimes you make signings of the likes of Keats for what they can do on the field, but also what they bring in terms of helping you younger players to develop, and he has certainly fulfilled that up to now.”
Richie Gray is also a doubt for this Saturday’s trip to Italy take on Zebre, and potentially next Sunday’s Six Nations match, having picked up a head knock midway through the second half of last Sunday’s game. The second row has had concussion issues in the past, most recently when he was forced to sit out two and a half months of this season between the end of October and middle of January.
“Richie did have a minor bang on the head – only a minor one – but we have to be very careful with him because of his history,” said Wilson. “It is nothing too severe, nothing we’re massively worried about, so we’ll make the relevant decisions based on the process he goes through.
“It is a six-day turnaround, which does have its restricting factors, so if there is any doubt whatsoever, we won’t be playing him. We’ll see how he goes.”
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Wilson wouldn’t be drawn on whether Leone Nakarawa, the other starting lock from Sunday’s match, will be back in the boiler room this Saturday, although he did concede that the Fijian’s current fitness levels are way below the level you would hope for from a player of that calibre.
The 32-year-old has now had three games back after almost a year out due to Covid followed by a knee injury, but still looked hopelessly out of shape and off the pace against Leinster before being replaced by teenager Gregor Brown at half-time.
“He’s got a lot of work to do, hasn’t he?” conceded Wilson. “If I’m being brutally honest.
“We took him off at half-time and brought Gregor Brown on, who I thought brought real energy. He’s another young academy player, another exciting player for the future. At 19 years of age, playing away at the RDS, I thought he did some good things. He did make some mistakes, and we’re going to have to be patient with some of these young boys, but he did well. Let’s leave it there.”
Pushed on the situation with Nakarawa, who is leaving the club to join Ulster in the summer, Wilson tried to play devil’s advocate.
“I think Leone has had a long time out the game, that’s the first thing I would say, and any player who has been out the game for a long period of time needs a bit of time to get back into things,” he reasoned.
“And I’m sure that Leone will bounce back to that type of form by getting more match-fit and through the knee and leg being more comfortable in games. He’s fit to play but we probably need to get him match fit.
“At the same time, he’s leaving and therefore we do need to make sure that we’ve got the right players getting development. You do want your experienced, quality rugby players out there to help develop and bring the youngsters through. We’ll see how the next few weeks go with that process.”
Hamish Bain, who wasn’t able to train last week, will come back into the selection mix for the trip to Italy, but Brown – who is more of a No6 really – is clearly seen as the next cab off the rank.
“Hamish is another one who needs that opportunity to develop, but these guys have to earn it, too, and that has to be the message,” said Wilson.
“Gregor Brown flat out earned his chance. In the Edinburgh A game and in training games he has stood out and put down a marker. Hamish has got a bit more to do.”