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'I think this looks like a deliberate snub': Scottish pundits miffed over Adam Hastings omission

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

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Scotland’s 39-man Six Nations squad named last week had fans and pundits alike baffled when head coach Gregor Townsend omitted Gloucester flyhalf Adam Hastings.

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The 25-year-old pivot had become a key contributor to Scotland over the last two Six Nations campaigns, firstly stepping up to guide the side as the starter when regular starter Finn Russell had a falling out with Townsend in 2020.

When Russell returned in 2021, Hastings assumed the role of bench cover for 10 and provided a crucial cameo in Paris when he set-up a last second try to Duhan van der Merwe to give Scotland a well earned away win over France.

Heading into the 2022 campaign, Townsend could not find room for Hastings in his 39-man squad which leaves Scotland with just one genuine 10 for the tournament.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland‘s rugby podcast this week, BCC Scotland’s chiefs sports writer Tom English was taken back by the omission and at a loss to find a reason for the non-selection.

“I’d have to say, some names I had to do some research on,” English told the BBC Radio Scotland panel.

“One name that wasn’t in the squad which really took me back, and that’s Adam Hastings. I can’t figure that out, why he’s not in there. It’s a really curious one.

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“Scotland now have one recognised flyhalf in the squad, I mean Kinghorn is in there as well, he’s played 10 for Edinburgh this season but he’s not a natural 10, in my book anyway. So you’ve got one.

“This is a 39-man squad and you’ve got one natural, out-and-out 10. I don’t understand that.”

Equally baffled was ex-Scotland international Peter Wright who couldn’t understand the rationale behind leaving out Hastings and heading into a Six Nations tournament with just one flyhalf.

“Why not make it a 40-man squad, has it got to be 39? So why not just make it 40 and include Hastings. I totally agree,” Wright said.

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“You’ve got one out-and-out standoff. Against England I assume Kinghorn is going to cover 10 and probably wing and fullback, which is fine but if you lose Russell in the second or third minute and you putting a guy in that’s never been tested, if that’s how it goes.

“Never been tested at international level. I don’t know the rationale, has he given rationale for it? Has he not picked him on form or not picked him because he just wants to look at other players?”

Podcast host Andy Burke confirmed that Townsend had indicated that the decision had been on form.

“Well he said during the week, Gregor Townsend, he said that players in that position are playing better, i.e. Blair Kinghorn, has played better at 10 for Edinburgh than Adam Hastings has for Gloucester,” Burke explained.

“Listen, Blair Kinghorn is a fine footballer, really, really good footballer,” English interjected passionately.

“But to put him in a Six Nations game at 10, if Finn Russell god forbid goes down injured in the first five minutes against England, Blair Kinghorn is your 10. I don’t think he’s ready to play that kind of game at 10.

“As for ‘he’s playing better than Hastings’, well, Kinghorn has played, I wouldn’t say disrespectfully the ‘fodder of the URC’, but he’s played some of lesser sides of the URC.

“He’s playing behind a pack that’s fairly dominant in games against the lower orders. The best performance they’ve put up this season was against Saracens and he didn’t play in that game.

“It’s curious. It’s very, very curious. Why take the risk? This is a guy who came off the bench regularly and had a fantastic Six Nations championship for Scotland and played very well.

“This is a guy who pitched in when Gregor Townsend and Finn Russell had their disagreement, played really really well throughout that Championship (in 2020). Adam Hastings has done exceptionally well for Scotland.”

Given the stature of Hastings’ performances over the last two years, English then questioned whether this was a deliberate move.

“I think this looks like a deliberate snub to him. It’s a 39-man squad and you can’t find a place for a guy who played all last season?”

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