The early years of professional rugby were a tough time for homegrown young Scottish talent. A number went on to develop into top international players but there was frustration for many others as the national team was frequently bolstered by Anglos and southern hemisphere imports.
That practice continues but there has been a noticeable sea change in recent years as the opportunities for youth at the top end of the game have become more commonplace.
Players like Ali Price, Zander Fagerson, Magnus Bradbury and Blair Kinghorn have found themselves pulling on Scotland jerseys not long after establishing themselves in the pro teams and the latest young guns to burst onto the Test scene are Glasgow half-backs George Horne and Adam Hastings.
The coming season is poised to be one in which the pair can cement themselves as Warriors linchpins and potentially look to add to the first Scotland caps they picked up during the recent summer tour.
While 23-year-old scrum-half Horne very much broke through last season, ending as coach Dave Rennie’s first-choice No 9 for the Guinness Pro14 semi-final loss, it could now be 21-year-old stand-off Hastings’ turn after Scotland playmaker Finn Russell’s departure for Racing 92.
As things stand, Russell sits as national coach Gregor Townsend’s undisputed No 1 choice but, as has been proven many times of late, things can move fast.
It remains to be seen how Russell settles in France outside of the Scottish system, although for now Hastings is fully focused on claiming the role at Glasgow.
“Finn going has left a hole but someone needs to step up and take that role. I’d love to do it but we’ll see how it goes,” said the son of former Scotland and Lions skipper Gavin, who featured in all three of the summer Tests.
“There are others, Pete Horne has played a lot at 10 and obviously has a lot more experience than me, same with Jacko [Ruaridh Jackson], and Brandon Thomson can play there too. We’ll all push each other.
“I couldn’t really say [about Scotland]. But it was obviously a million miles away halfway through the season when I was playing for Currie. I never expected to get a go on the tour.
“Finn was really good, he was texting me through the tour wishing me well. I still see him as a role model. There’s a few boys gunning for that No 10 spot so I guess it’s a maybe, we’ll see.”
Horne also made the leap from BT Premiership to Test rugby after starting last season with Glasgow Hawks and reflected on a whirlwind year, which also saw him play in the Commonwealth Games sevens and enjoy a raft of games for the Warriors, notching an impressive ten tries along the way.
“It was mad but a lot of fun,” said Horne, who along with Hastings was speaking at the announcement of local firm KubeNet becoming Glasgow’s official technology partners.
“There were a lot of young guys doing pre-season last summer and Dave was massive on the point you’ll get picked on how you are training and playing so I think we all realised there was a chance if we work really hard. Thankfully that happened and, for me, it just took off. I got a lot of games, especially during the international windows with a few other guys. We played well in those periods and that kicked us on.”
After the unpredictable and exciting ride that was last season, Horne now has a chance for stability and to focus on truly establishing himself as a Glasgow player.
“It will be different this season but I’m going to try and treat it the same,” he said. “Just focus hard on my training and off-the-field stuff and when the games come just trying to nail my performances, not get caught up with thinking I need to better things from last year, just take things as they come and hopefully that progress comes naturally. I just want to keep contributing to the team and winning games, it’s as simple as that.”
Hastings made seven appearances for the Warriors after joining from Bath last summer and is also viewing this season as one to make progress after finding his feet in Glasgow, where he shares a flat with flanker Matt Smith.
“I’m an adopted weegie I guess now but I am still an Edinburgh boy. But Glasgow is a nice place and I feel pretty settled in now,” said Hastings. “It’s different this year as you feel you are coming back having a first go at it and now it’s time to kick on a bit.”
The trip to Canada, the United States and Argentina gave Hastings his first real taste of working with his father’s friend and former team-mate Townsend.
“I trained at Glasgow before I went down south for school and that was fun. That was the first time I’d properly met him in this environment,” said Hastings. “Like George, I was never expecting to go on tour. It was a bit of a mental month but also amazing.”
The most famous Hastings-Townsend moment came in 1995 with the celebrated “Toony flip” pass which put the full-back in under the posts to seal a first Scotland win in Paris since 1969.
“You see it every bloody Six Nations! I’ve seen that a few times,” said the young Hastings with a smile. “And the 1990 Grand Slam game about a million times. I’d like to think in the future I might create some memories like that in a Scotland jersey.”
The next target for the pair is to represent their country on home soil after picking up those overseas caps. “Me and George spoke about that at the end of the tour, that it had been class but we really want to do it at Murrayfield now,” said Hastings. “Everyone wants to play in front of a home crowd, it’s the dream.”
l Glasgow-based KubeNet have become the Official Technology Partner of Glasgow Warriors in a deal until May 2020. The telecommunications and technology company offer services to ‘connect and protect’ businesses across the UK with a comprehensive range of voice, data, connectivity and cloud services. Scotland and Glasgow Warriors half-backs George Horne and Adam Hastings helped launch the new partnership at Scotstoun, ahead of the new Guinness Pro14 season kicking off later this month.