Adam Hastings handed Scotland chance at 10 as Finn Russell return is ruled out

Adam Hastings has been challenged to seize his opportunity at stand-off after being picked to start for Scotland for the first time in over two years.

It has been over two years since Adam Hastings last started for Scotland. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
It has been over two years since Adam Hastings last started for Scotland. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

Gregor Townsend has selected the Gloucester fly-half ahead of Blair Kinghorn for Saturday’s autumn international against Fiji at Murrayfield in one of his six changes to his starting XV. Kinghorn impressed against Australia last week, creating one try and scoring another, but missed a last-minute penalty in the 16-15 defeat. He finds himself relegated to the bench and Hastings will take over place-kicking duties.

Townsend said he always had it in his mind to give both men a chance at 10 before Scotland’s third autumn Test, against New Zealand a week on Sunday. The coach also quashed rumours of a potential recall for Finn Russell. Asked if the Racing 92 stand-off could return to face the All Blacks, Townsend said simply, “no”. It leaves Hastings and Kinghorn as his frontline playmakers and it is the former who will be handed the conductor’s baton for the visit of Vern Cotter’s Fiji, his first start for Scotland since the 48-7 win over Georgia in October 2020.

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“Blair’s played for us in that position in the last five games but this is a chance for Adam to show how well he can fit in at Test level again,” said the coach. “We are obviously massive believers in Blair. Adam played for us a couple of seasons ago and he’s got back to that form this season, and even beyond that form - his game management has been excellent this year.”

Among the other changes, Stuart Hogg, Scotland’s record try-scorer, comes in at full-back for Ollie Smith who drops out of the match-day 23. There is a new centre combination, with Cameron Redpath and Chris Harris replacing Sione Tuipulotu and Mark Bennett at 12 and 13, respectively. George Turner starts at hooker in place of Dave Cherry who injured his hamstring at training and could miss the remainder of the series. As expected, Richie Gray comes in at second row for his first Scotland start since 2017. Murphy Walker, the young Glasgow prop, is in line to win in his first cap after being named on the bench.

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