‘Cursed but class – Scotland’s Adam Hastings back to show resilience’

He is not the same type of player – who is? – but Hastings at his best is a class act with an in-built resilience. We could see that early in his story.

His first steps in international rugby were on a similar tour of the Americas, like the one he is on now.

He made a smooth debut off the bench against Canada in the summer of 2018 and followed it up with a stinker against the US a week later. That was his first start.

It was put to Townsend in the days leading up to the third Test of that summer, away to Argentina, that it would be foolhardy to start a jumpy Hastings in the toughest Test – but Townsend knew better.

Scotland scored three tries in the first 13 minutes and Hastings was at the heart of everything. Confident as you like, he bossed it.

Against the Pumas of Agustin Creevy, Matias Alemanno, Pablo Matera, Marcos Kremer and Tomas Lavanini, Scotland won 44-15. Nobody who was there will forget the way Hastings bounced back from adversity in the space of a week.

When Russell and Townsend were having their difficulties it was Hastings who stepped into the breach in the spring of 2020 and calmed everything down at 10.

His performances in that Six Nations were largely exceptional, so much so that it might have helped save Townsend’s job. It seems like a million years ago, but people ought not to forget it.

Amid the bedlam of the Russell-Townsend affair, there were predictions of doomsday for Scotland. The team, it was said, could not function without Russell, not an unreasonable assertion given the brilliance of the man.

Hastings ignored all of that, or he said he did. He was cool. He was composed. Scotland lost by seven in Dublin on opening day and by six to England in round two. Then they won three in a row.

His team-mates, in huge numbers, have always given Hastings massive credit for the way he handled himself in that period.

They will have been impressed at the way he kept himself together in the down times, too. Pretty much every rugby player knows about the loneliness of rehab and the mental strength it takes to battle through and make it back on to the big stage.

Not as many know what it is like to spend as long fighting that battle as Hastings has. He hoped in January that the curse was behind him, but it wasn’t. He will be hoping again that Friday in America is the new beginning he has been waiting for.

No shaman, thanks. Just a fair shot at getting going again is all he needs right now.

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