As the stand-off contemplated what could be his final match for the Warriors before he joins Gloucester, he reflected on how he has grown in confidence and stature during his time at Scotstoun.
Gone are the nerves which plagued him in his early days, replaced by an assuredness that allowed him to step into the No 10 jersey vacated by Finn Russell when the latter left to join Racing 92.
Giving up the Domino’s
“I’m a different player and a different person as well,” said the fly-half ahead of Friday’s home match against Leinster in the Rainbow Cup. “In just three years I’ve grown up a lot and matured, on and off the field. It’s almost radical.
“I came up here as a boy and feel like I’m leaving as a man. I’m probably a couple of kilos lighter too from the Academy days when I was eating Domino’s every week! That didn’t help.
“As a player I felt I made huge strides under Dave Rennie. Obviously this year hasn’t gone the way I would have liked in terms of playing time but I’ve focused on other areas like gym work. But overall I owe where I am now to this club.”
Hastings sustained a bad shoulder injury during Scotland’s Six Nations win over Wales in Llanelli in October then suffered facial fractures during Glasgow’s European Challenge Cup defeat by Montpellier in April, limiting the number of games he has been able to feature in for his club this season.
Celtic Park defeat still stings
Friday’s game with Leinster could be his farewell, although a victory would leave Danny Wilson’s side with a chance of reaching the Rainbow Cup final in Italy on June 19. The opportunity to bow out with a trophy would be “huge” he says, all the more so because of the manner in which Glasgow lost the 2019 Guinness Pro14 final to the Irish side.
“That final when we lost to Leinster still stings,” said Hastings of the 18-15 defeat at Celtic Park. “I think if we could have won that I would have been very content leaving. I’ve still got a bit of a bad taste in my mouth about that one.
“Any silverware is good and what better way to end my career [at Glasgow] and send a lot of other good blokes off than with a bit of silverware.”
The 2019 final was the closest Rennie came to winning a trophy with Glasgow but Hastings says the New Zealander was instrumental in improving his game
“I think game awareness was the big one - when to kick, when to run, when to take it to the line, when to play it a little bit earlier. ‘Rens’ was huge for me in that department. After every game he’d sit with me and go through every single one of my clips and we’d discuss it.
“I feel that when I first came to Glasgow I was very nervous playing in front of crowds, even halfway through my first season I still got very nervous.
“I’d say at the start of my Glasgow career I’d be scared to take risks whereas now if a ball’s on I’ll throw it, or if it’s on to carry through a hole I’ll go for it. I’ve got a lot less fear now than I used to. I think that’s the biggest difference.”
Replacing Danny Cipriani
A new chapter begins for Hastings next season when he will return to the English Premiership to join Gloucester. The stand-off, who began his pro career with Bath, will be replacing Danny Cipriani at Kingholm but is unfazed by the prospect.
“I had to replace Finn at Glasgow which wasn’t an easy task and I feel I did a half decent job of that,” he points out.
“Look, obviously Cipriani’s a brilliant player and there’s a hole left there. But there are a couple of good 10s at Gloucester in Lloyd Evans and George Barton and I’m sure I’ll have to fight for that jersey with those two.”
Before that, there is unfinished business against Leinster. Hastings has been selected at full-back in Glasgow’s last two games and looked very comfortable in the wins over Edinburgh and Dragons in the position his father Gavin made his own for Scotland during the 1980s and 1990s.
Stand-off or full-back?
Hastings junior said playing 15 was liberating but he still sees himself as a stand-off.
“I do prefer playing 10 still and Gloucester have signed me as a 10. But I have played full-back a couple of times for Scotland and Glasgow and that’s not a bad thing at all.
“I was speaking to my old man yesterday about it and how it can’t hurt having played at 15. It’s another string to my bow. It’s good that you can play in good positions – I’ve played a bit at 12 as well and it’s a good thing to have.
“I am a 10 and I feel that’s my best position. But at 15 I can showcase my running game a bit more, pop up as second receiver and have more time on the ball. I feel that I know what a 10 is looking for so I can provide that kind of communication from out wide.
“It’s been enjoyable playing at 15. I’ve been able to sit at the back and take it all in. And I’ve really enjoyed these last couple of games.”