‘We’ll see’ - Gregor Townsend coy on possible return for Finn Russell for France and Wales games

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend believes stand-off Adam Hastings will learn valuable lessons from Saturday’s testing afternoon in the 17-0 Six Nations win over Italy.

Scotland's Adam Hastings, centre, celebrates his late try with Stuart Hogg, left, and Rory Hutchinson. Picture: Alessandra Tarantino/AP
Scotland's Adam Hastings, centre, celebrates his late try with Stuart Hogg, left, and Rory Hutchinson. Picture: Alessandra Tarantino/AP

The 23-year-old missed some routine kicks at goal and made several errors in open play but rounded his day off with a breakaway try and conversion in the dying seconds to put a gloss on what was a hard-won first victory of the 2020 championship.

“This will have been a good learning game for [Adam] because there are areas where he will have to improve – him individually and also the team,” said Townsend, the former Scotland and Lions stand-off.

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“I’m thinking about the attack more than the defence here. He’s got through that experience and the last game [at home to England in atrocious weather] was a very good learning experience for him too in terms of the conditions and how he has to play as a 10.

“Those are brilliant learning experiences for him. What pleased me was that he was able to change things around in the second half and I thought he defended really well.”

Hastings himself took to Twitter after the match and said: “Think I left my kicking boots in Edinburgh, some graft today but we’ll take it.”

With a two-week break now until the next game against France at BT Murrayfield a week on Sunday, Townsend was asked again about whether there was likely to be any move to reintroduce banished stand-off Finn Russell to the squad.

“We’ll see. But I’d rather talk about this game and the 23 who were involved,” he said.

On Glasgow playmaker Hastings, the coach added: “He worked really hard. He has been part of a Scotland win so he will be feeling like the rest of the players – good about the efforts that went in.

“But we know there are improvements to come, as there are with all the squad and the coaches as well.

“He has gone for 80 minutes in every game. [Northampton utility back] Rory [Hutchinson] has really impressed us in training with how he has stepped in at 10. We gave him the opportunity to come on earlier this week because we had a winger on the bench and I thought he defended well when he came on at 13 [replacing Chris Harris, who was Scotland’s other tryscorer after skipper Stuart Hogg’s first-half wonder score from inside his own half].

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“We will keep progressing if those two [Hastings and Hutchinson] are the guys going into our next two games. We’ve been pleased with how they are working at training and the experiences Adam is getting in games.”

Scotland came through a physical and frenetic encounter with the Italians relatively unscathed. Harris failed a head injury assessment and will now enter concussion protocols, hooker Stuart McInally “took a whack”, the rest “just bumps and bruises” the coach reported.

“[Wing] Darcy [Graham] didn’t come through training last week. We’ll see how he goes next week but might not be available for France.”