Hast­ings is highly rated

The Citizen (KZN) - - Sport - Blan­chard­stown

– Adam Hast­ings (above) re­plac­ing Finn Rus­sell as Scot­land fly-half for their open­ing Six Na­tions clash with Ire­land in Dublin this week­end will make lit­tle dif­fer­ence, ac­cord­ing to the hosts’ cap­tain Johnny Sex­ton.

Hast­ings, 23, will make his first start in the tour­na­ment to­day due to reg­u­lar out­side-half Rus­sell, 27, hav­ing been dis­ci­plined for breach­ing team rules last week.

How­ever, Sex­ton – who has been ap­pointed skip­per by head coach Andy Far­rell af­ter Rory Best’s re­tire­ment – said Hast­ings pos­sesses the same mer­cu­rial tal­ent as Rus­sell.

“It’s like for like re­ally,” Sex­ton told re­porters at Ire­land’s train­ing base.

“When you talk about Finn Rus­sell’s strengths, you’re talk­ing about Adam Hast­ings’ strengths, they’re all the same.

“I don’t know how it will dis­rupt them, they’ve sort of played it down a lit­tle bit.

“They seem to be happy with where they’re at and he (Hast­ings) is a qual­ity player and one that we are go­ing to have to be fully switched on for be­cause he has a full bag of tricks that he can pull out,” the 34-year-old added.

Sex­ton, the World Player-oftheYear in 2018, had a dis­ap­point­ing 2019 be­set by fit­ness and form prob­lems which was also re­flected in the Ire­land side as a whole.

Their limp quar­ter­fi­nal exit to then hold­ers New Zealand was a far cry from their mo­men­tous vic­tory over the same op­po­si­tion in Dublin in 2018.

Sex­ton’s in­jury woes con­tin­ued with a knee prob­lem that saw him out of ac­tion since De­cem­ber, how­ever, his steely de­ter­mi­na­tion has shone through. – AFP

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