THE ability to remain calm amidst the mayhem is a precious characteristic in a stand-off, and it is one which Adam Hastings displayed in abundance during his Glasgow Warriors debut against Northampton Saints on Saturday. Many a 10 can look cool behind an advancing pack, of course, but what was impressive about the 21-year-old’s performance was how he maintained his composure even when his forwards were on the back foot.
Another quality on show from the former Bath fly-half was his game awareness, and at times in his team’s 19-14 defeat at Bridgehaugh he showed an unerring instinct for how the opposition defence was configured, instantly exploiting gaps with cutely angled kicks from hand. His understanding with first George Horne then latterly Charlie Shiel at scrum-half was another plus point, but Hastings himself refused to get carried away. After all, his team had lost a game that they could have won, and he was well aware of shortcomings in his own display that will need worked on in the coming weeks.
“It’s always difficult in pre-season games because you’re still a bit rusty even though you’ve been doing a lot of training,” he said. “We’ve done three months of training. I think we could have put them away a bit earlier, but you let a team like Northampton back into the game and they’re always going to push you.
“It’s a mixed bag. I’m not particularly thrilled, but I’m not too disappointed. So it’s just average.”
One of the main reasons for Hastings’ return to Scotland was the search for regular rugby, and, while he knows he faces stiff competition for the No 10 jersey from Finn Russell and Peter Horne among others, he is convinced that new head coach Dave Rennie will select his sides on merit rather than on what has gone before. “They said ‘It’s a trial’ before the game – ‘you’re all playing for places’,” Hastings continued.
“He [Rennie] said as soon as he came in at the start of the week that he’s going to pick boys on how they’re playing and not reputation, so as a youngster that is good to hear. Obviously going into that game you’re thinking, ‘If I do something half decent I might get a shot in the future’.”
Russell remains the country’s stand-out stand-off by some margin, but he is sure to be unavailable for some PRO14 games. Besides, it is not that long ago since Duncan Weir was preferred to him in the Warriors starting line-up, so it is far more inconceivable that Hastings will be making his competitive debut before too long. He appears to have settled in well already, and hinted at feeling a lot more at home in the west of Scotland than he did in England’s West Country.
“I felt a bit more confident coming in here. I’ve had a lot more reps in training in the past three months than I had at Bath. It was nice to get a full 80 minutes so I could play my way into the game rather than just coming off the bench.
“I didn’t know many boys [in the Glasgow squad]. I only knew a few of the younger lads. Everyone’s been extremely welcoming. I couldn’t ask for a better start to a club, so, yeah, I’m very happy.”
And of course, if Russell keeps his hands on the No 10 jersey longer than Hastings would like, there is always the option of full-back. “I played a couple of games at 15 for Bath and I got a fair whack off the bench in an Anglo/Welsh Cup at 15. It’s an enjoyable position,” Hastings added. “I enjoy it. It’s all good. I can play there.”