ADAM Hastings makes his comeback from injury for Glasgow tonight, and all being well could go on to return to the Scotland squad for next week’s Six Nations match against France.

The stand-off has been out since the end of October, when he damaged a shoulder while playing for the national team against Wales, and the question for Gregor Townsend will be whether one match back is enough preparation for a return to the rigours of Test rugby. However, the Scotland coach has already shown his eagerness for Hastings to be involved again by first having the 24-year-old join up with the squad for a couple of days early in the week of the England match, and then by involving him in the build-up to last week’s game against Wales - up to and including the captain’s run on the eve of the fixture.

It has also been noticeable that Edinburgh 10 Jaco van der Walt, back-up to Finn Russell in both of those Championship matches, has not come off the bench. To an extent that highlights how vital Russell is to Scotland’s game plan, but it is also a function of the dissimilarities between the two stand-offs. By contrast, Hastings’ creative style of play is far closer to Russell’s.

Hastings had always hoped to be back for the latter rounds of the Six Nations, and in fact is returning to action a little ahead of schedule. But, while delighted by the invitation to work with Scotland, he insisted earlier this month that he would not read anything into it.

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“I’m taking absolutely nothing for granted,” he said. “I fully expect I’ll have to prove myself all over again before getting another chance to represent Scotland.”

Warriors attack coach Jonny Bell said yesterday that Scotland would be keen to have Hastings involved again when practicable, but suggested that another outing or two at club level might be preferable before a national recall. “We’re delighted - he’s looking great,” the former Ulster player said. “He’s excited and motivated to get back in playing for Glasgow, but also then to push back into the Scotland squad.

“He’s a highly motivated guy and he's been training well over the last couple of weeks and he's ready to go. We’re excited for him. 

“Everyone realises what a player he is, so I'm sure everyone in the Scottish side will be looking forward to having him available again. Whether one game back is enough is questionable, and obviously he has stiff competition there. It's not just a case of Adam being fit: he's got to push his way in there as well through getting some game time.”

A strong Glasgow line-up also includes Huw Jones, Oli Kebble and Richie Gray, all of whom are back from Scotland duty, while Leone Nakarawa starts in the second row alongside Gray against the team he will join in the summer. Hamish Bain was not on the list of unavailable players in the press release to announce the matchday 23, but Bell explained the lock had been unable to train this week because of a knock. James Scott, signed from Worcester this week as a short-term loan, therefore comes on to the bench as cover as lock. 

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Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson, Ali Price and George Turner have not been released by Scotland, and Zander Fagerson is on the list of players deemed unavailable for other reasons, including injury, although it is as yet uncertain which Warriors match he will be counted as missing as part of his four-week suspension by the Six Nations following his red card against Wales. Fagerson has the right to appeal against that suspension, but it is understood that no decision will be taken on that until Scottish Rugby receive the full written judgement on his case from the Six Nations.

The unavailable list in full is: Alex Allan, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Chris Fusaro, George Horne, Pete Horne, Lee Jones, Paddy Kelly, Kiran McDonald, Stafford McDowall, Niko Matawalu, Robbie Nairn, Tommy Seymour and Kyle Steyn.

Ulster, who beat Glasgow 40-15 at home in November, are second in Conference A, 31 points ahead of the Warriors. They need a win to keep up the pressure on leaders Leinster, who are currently four points clear of them and favourites to go through to the final as conference winners.

Glasgow have only played twice since the turn of the year, both times against Edinburgh. Their last outing against non-Scottish opposition was the heavy Champions Cup defeat by Exeter, while their most recent PRO14 match other than the derby was a one-point home defeat by the Dragons in early December.

 

Glasgow Warriors (v Ulster at Scotstoun, tonight, 7.35pm): H Jones; R Tagive, R Fergusson, S Johnson, R McLean; A Hastings, J Dobie; O Kebble, J Matthews, E Pieretto, R Gray, L Nakarawa, R Harley, T Gordon, R Wilson (captain). Substitutes: G Stewart, A Seiuli, D Rae, J Scott, T Ioane, S Kennedy, R Thompson, O Smith.

Ulster: M Lowry, C Gilroy, J Hume, S McCloskey, R Lyttle, I Madigan, J Cooney; E O’Sullivan, J Andrew, M Moore, A O’Connor, K Treadwell, N Timoney, J Murphy (captain), M Coetzee. Substitutes: A McBurney, A Warwick, T O’Toole, C Izuchukwu, G Jones, A Mathewson, S Moore, M Faddes.