Whole new ball game for Hastings

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The Independent Online
American football

Gavin Hastings, the former Scotland captain who retired from international rugby union after the World Cup in South Africa last year, has switched sports to join the Scottish Claymores team.

Hastings, whose company Hastings International markets the Claymores, announced his decision yesterday at Murrayfield, the home of the Edinburgh- based side. He is to join his new US team-mates for a two-week training session in Atlanta, Georgia, next month where he will practise his kicking. He is has been named as kicker for the 1996 World League season which begins in April.

Team managers admitted yesterday that they had only seen Hastings kick an once - at the Denver Broncos training ground four weeks ago. They also conceded that the former Lion had yet to don the full regalia or play a single game. But they praised him as a unique talent and said they were confident he would "translate his coveted kicking skills" to the new game.

Although Hastings said he had spent "a very long time" thinking about his new playing role, he appeared somewhat bemused at yesterday's press conference. He insisted he was "well-acquainted with the hype" of the game but "did not know an awful lot about the actual playing".

"It's interesting, something new, I am looking forward to it," he said. "Until you put yourself in the hot seat, you won't know what will happen. Hopefully, I am not too old to learn. The opportunity of playing here again at Murrayfield is a very appealing one. The hairs on the back of my neck always rise when I am playing in this great stadium."

The decision to join the Scottish side, who open against the London Monarchs at White Hart Lane in April, was "really just an extension of the business relationship" he already enjoys with the Claymores, Hastings said.