Scotland v Russia: Adam Hastings aims to seize opportunity with controlled performance

Stand-off was understudy for Ireland and Samoa games so is desperate to make his mark when Gregor Townsend rests his frontliners

Adam Hastings
Adam Hastings is expected to start at stand-off for Scotland against Russia on Wednesday. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson
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ADAM HASTINGS says he will be ready to seize his opportunity if, as expected, he is named at stand-off for Wednesday’s World Cup clash against Russia  – but the playmaker will be wary of pushing too hard too soon in a game which Scotland definitely have enough firepower to win but run the risk of missing out on a crucial bonus-point if they don’t get their game-management right.

With Gregor Townsend’s team facing Japan in what will almost certainly be a quarter-final qualification decider four days after the Russia fixture, it is inevitable that most – if not all – the players who have had limited game-time so far in the tournament will be given a start on Wednesday.

Hastings has had to wait in the wings against Ireland and Samoa while Finn Russell has started at stand-off, and he makes no bones about being frustrated, but he knows he can’t let his eagerness to prove himself get in the way of the patient approach Scotland have identified as the best means of breaking down Russia’s committed and well-organised defence.

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“It’s obviously kind of tough,” acknowledged Hastings, who celebrates his 23rd birthday tomorrow [Saturday]. “Finn is such a quality player – he’s running the ship week-in and week-out – but I’m taking the view that I’m in a good position to learn from him

“I was at Glasgow with him the year before [he moved to Racing 92] and he’s matured a lot during his time in France, so it’s been good rubbing shoulders with him again.

“You definitely do have to get yourself prepped mentally for the situation I’m in. I enjoyed a lot of minutes with Glasgow last season but I did have it in the back of my head …well, I suppose I knew …  that I wasn’t going to be playing much out here. Hopefully, I’ll get a bit of game time soon.

“I was on the bench last week [against Samoa] and I would have liked a bit more game-time, but we were pushing for that fourth try so I understand you need boys like Finn on the park.

“If I do get an opportunity against Russia then I know I definitely need to try to make my mark. There’s been a lot spoken about Japan – it’s a massive game – but the fact of the matter is that if we don’t turn up against Russia then Japan won’t matter.”

“If I am playing, I’ll be very up for it, itching to go as I’m sure a few other boys will be.

The squad watched Ireland’s 35-0 victory over Russia on Thursday night together, and while it was a convincing enough victory for Joe Schmidt’s side in the end, the fact that it took 61 minutes to secure the bonus point was a timely reminder that there is no easy games in international rugby any more.

“It’s important we don’t try too hard,” said Hastings. “As you saw with the Ireland game last night, when they scored two quick tries but perhaps lost a bit of patience and then struggled to get that bonus point until near the end.”

“Ireland definitely had enough quality to do so and hopefully we will as well if we play our usual game and things stick. We’ve spoken about this already and it’s just about being patient.

“There’s no pressure to do what Finn does as we’re completely different players,” he added. “We’ve both got different aspects to our game that we play to. There are obviously similarities there, but I’ve never felt I need to do what he does.

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About David Barnes 4004 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.