Finn Russell ‘in the mix’ for Scotland v New Zealand says Gregor Townsend after Adam Hastings injury

Gregor Townsend said Finn Russell is “in the mix” for next weekend’s game against New Zealand after Adam Hastings suffered a double injury in the 28-12 win over Fiji on Saturday.

Adam Hastings was injured early in the second half against Fiji.  (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Adam Hastings was injured early in the second half against Fiji. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

Hastings, who scored a try on his first Test start in two years, was on the receiving end of an almighty hit from Ratu Leone Rotuisolia early in the second half at Murrayfield. The tackle by the Fijian lock left the Scotland stand-off with head and knee injuries and he was replaced by Blair Kinghorn. Hastings will be monitored over the next few days but the match against the All Blacks next Sunday may come too soon for the Gloucester fly-half.

Russell was surprisingly left out of Townsend’s initial squad for the Autumn Nations Series but the Scotland coach said he would be in his thinking for the New Zealand match. “He will be in the mix, of course,” said Townsend who said he had not spoken with the Racing 92 player since telling him he had not been selected.

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“People who are not in the squad I don’t phone up regularly unless there’s something to talk about,” added Townsend. “I’d imagine he will be available. He was disappointed not to be selected in the squad. If we decide to bring in another ten, he’s one of the ones we’ll be looking at. There are a lot of players out of the camp and within the camp. Our focus has been on the players in the camp in this two-week period.”

Adam Hastings scored a try for Scotland just before half-time. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

Scotland played Kinghorn as their starting 10 in the first autumn Test against Australia before giving Hastings his opportunity against Fiji. Townsend was pleased with aspects of the latter’s performance as the home side overcame a sticky period midway through the first half when Fiji led 12-7. “I thought Adam did well in a lot of areas,” said the coach. “We didn’t get as much ball in the first half, but when we started changing direction to try to pick off defenders, he looked confident and took his try well. Then we had a period where we didn’t have much ball. When Blair came on it was a stop-start game. I thought he put pace on things, but we weren’t as accurate in attack.”

Hastings’ try just before half-time meant Scotland were able to go in at the interval 14-12 ahead. They then scored 14 unanswered points in the second half in what was a hugely physical encounter. George Turner, the Scotland hooker, was another casualty, going off after 31 minutes with a shoulder problem. It means Townsend's two first-choice hookers have been injured in a matter of days, with Dave Cherry damaging his hamstring in training in midweek..

Reflecting on what was at times a ragged first-half performance during which Scotland conceded seven penalties, the coach acknowledged that things would need to be cleaned up considerably for the visits of the All Blacks.

“We improved to win the game but there are certainly things we will have to improve for next week,” said Townsend. “The players know they can play better but they are delighted that they won for Scotland. We are all aware we will have to play better next week.”

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