Stand-off prospect Adam Hastings is hoping to be given the chance to shine again in the Scotland No 10 jersey at the weekend but has laughed off any suggestions of any edge developing to his rivalry with incumbent Finn Russell heading towards next year’s World Cup in Japan.
Russell has enjoyed a superb start to his new career in France with Racing 92 but is unavailable for Saturday’s opening autumn Test against Wales in Cardiff, which opens the door for Hastings to add to the three caps he picked up on the June tour to North America and Argentina.
The 22-year-old was understudy to Russell at Glasgow Warriors last season, following his move from Bath, but has been Dave Rennie’s first choice this term and impressed.
“I get along with Finn really well,” said Hastings. “He was a role model for me at Glasgow and still is now. He’s a quality player and we get along well.
“It’s nice having someone to chat to about things. It’s not like the [Irish stand-offs] Ronan O’Gara/Johnny Sexton [rivalry] thing you hear of. It’s nice having a shoulder to lean on.
“He probably doesn’t realise how much he is helping me. Even when I’m just watching him I’m learning off him.”
Hastings is clear that simply getting a run of game time in the tank is the simple reason for his mostly sparkling form since the summer.
“I think it’s just a confidence thing,” he said. “Last season when I was playing I was not getting consistent game time. You maybe try too hard or not enough because you might be scared to make mistakes.
“Now, I’ve been given time in the seat and Dave Rennie has backed me, which I’ve been thankful for. Confidence has had a massive role.”
Possibly even more than those Tests against Canada, United States and Argentina, the recent titanic clash with Saracens at Scotstoun in the Heineken Champions Cup gave young Hastings an insight into the step up to top-level rugby.
“That was definitely the most physical game I have played in,” he said of the 13-3 loss in confrontation that was brutal. “After it I was battered as were the rest of us but I felt we fronted physically. I took a lot of learning from that game which was needed.”
Hastings had some shaky moments in that game against the two-time European champion English giants but kept his head up and responded with a sparkling show the following weekend against Cardiff at the Arms Park in the shadow of the Principality Stadium where he will likely lead the Scotland backline against Wales on Saturday.
“We went down there [to Cardiff Blues] and it was a kind of must-win game as most are in Europe. That gave me even more confidence. It may have been easy to go into my shell a bit but we went out there and performed really well.”
Hastings’ legendary father, the former Scotland and Lions captain Gavin, graced the old Cardiff Arms Park six times during his international career, including the 1991 Rugby World Cup third-place play-off when he famously bumped giant All Black prop Richard Loe on his backside.
The Principality provides a more modern environment for a different game to his dad’s heyday, according to the youngster.
“Dad played during amateur days and the game has changed,” he said. “I do talk about my performances with him but it is nothing too in depth. He probably feels he knows what he is talking about!
“It is nice having my father there as he has been there, done that.
“There is so much preparation nowadays you look at teams the week before you play them. The coaching team a few weeks before that will be doing it as well. The game has changed a bit since his day.”
It is a place the young Hastings has experienced on a number of occasions from the vertiginous stands of the iconic venue.
“I have been there a few times. When I was at school [at Millfield in Somerset], I had a lot of Welsh friends and would go to games with them.
“It is an amazing atmosphere, especially when the roof is closed it is bouncing. They are very passionate fans the Welsh.”