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'I've had some dark times': Hastings opens up on 'hellish' injuries

By Chris Jones
Getty Images

Gloucester outside half Adam Hastings has an uncanny ability to capture the attention of social media, including an incredible drop goal from his own half and being on the receiving end of a massive hit delivered by a 123kg Fijian second row.

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His latest internet contribution has been constantly replayed to try and work out how he deftly moved the ball behind his back and then dropped it onto his left foot, nutmegging the dumbfounded defence.

Hastings produced this moment of unique individual skill in the European Challenge Cup quarter-final 23-13 win over Ospreys at Kingsholm. So, how many times had he produced this trick in a match? The answer is a remarkable “never before” for a move that he first attempted as a 10-year-old playing in the garden with his cousins.

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The 27-year-old told RugbyPass: “Those things aren’t seen very often and get clicks and I refer to that as backyard bulls**t! I do remember doing it with my cousins and it is something I do mucking about before training but I had never done it before in a game.

“I don’t really know why I did it to be honest – it was a bit pointless – but I thought I could sneak it through if there was more of a disguise on it.”

Hastings, who will be rejoining Glasgow Warriors at the end of the season, first became an online sensation courtesy of a thumping 53m drop goal against London Irish while the massive tackle by Fijian lock Ratu Rotuisolia forced the Gloucester No10 off in the 42nd minute of Scotland’s win at Murrayfield in 2022.

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“I would rather go viral for a kick than being smashed by a Fijian,” admitted Hastings. “I had to watch it back because I couldn’t remember the tackle. I didn’t know what had happened and it is horrible. My mates are quite cruel and like tagging me into those videos of me getting smashed and hopefully, there are less of those highlights coming out.”

The Fijian hit came during a debilitating run of injuries for Hastings who has undergone four operations and countless weeks of rehabilitation working with the medical and strength and conditioning staff at Kingsholm who have helped him negotiate this difficult period of his career.

Besides the help of the Gloucester staff and his teammates, the popular outside half has been able to take inspiration from his family. Father Gavin is the former Scotland and Lions captain who understands the demands of top-class rugby while his mother Diane was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2003 at the age of just 39.

Diane had surgery in 2016 which saw her undergo a course of deep brain stimulation to regulate the electrical signals that cause tremors and stiffness and has since competed in the London Marathon. Sister Holly lives in Barcelona and is another source of positivity although her offer of a session with a Tarot card reader has yet to be taken up.

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Hastings, who has recovered from knee and shoulder injuries, added: “It has been hellish with the injuries and I am much better at dealing with these things and I remember the first injury felt like my world was ending. The more you have the easier it becomes and that is kind of sad in a way.

“It has been so tough and I am trying so hard. People don’t get a glimpse behind the scenes and I have had some dark times but I have a great support team around me. I couldn’t be in a better place to keep me level-headed.

“Through Covid I flicked a switch and trained really hard and found I had another gear and knew I was mentally strong. However, I couldn’t have prepared myself for the past two seasons and how difficult it has been. I think you get a newfound respect for yourself coming through those hard times.

“What my Mum deals with every day and seeing her just get on with it then I cannot really complain or feel too sorry for myself. My Dad has been through the mill and knows what it’s like and they have been brilliant. My sister has been great and is only a phone call away.

“My sister said she had got me a Tarot card reading (because of the injuries) which I was terrified about!”

With the Premiership Cup already in the Gloucester trophy cabinet, Hastings, who will be in contention for Scotland’s summer tour of North and South America, has the opportunity to help deliver another piece of silverware with the club taking on Benetton in the European Challenge Cup semi-final at Kingsholm on May 4. Winning that competition would be a perfect way to say goodbye to the “amazing” fans who have made his stay at Gloucester so memorable.

It would also be a chance to share a special moment with Chris Harris, who together with wife Ruby, had Hastings as a lodger during much of his three years at the club and the two Scotland internationals have a very strong bond.

“Any silverware is a good season and we are in knockout rugby,” he said. “We weren’t in good form in the Premiership earlier in the season and the Cups gave us a new lease of life and to get to another final and win it would be magical and I just hope we can get the job done.”

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