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Hastings’ journey from UK export to Easter Monday hero


After a four-year Super League stint, Hastings has returned to the NRL. He hasn’t just returned a more mature player, but the hero Wests Tigers need.

Winless to start the season, pressure was building on coach Michael Maguire and the Wests Tigers.

The side was given no chance of knocking off the red hot Eels, who filled CommBank Stadium with intentions of ‘locking out’ all the opposition fans.

The one thing working Maguire’s favour was the return of Hastings from an untimely three-game suspension. It’s clear there’s mutual appreciation, based on the half’s prominence in the coaches box the last few weeks.

The former Rooster and Sea Eagle took over Luke Brooks’ role as chief playmaker, symbolised by the number seven on his back.

Maguire’s patience for Brooks ran out (like it had already with most fans), moving him to five-eighth, and Hastings would ultimately repay the faith put in him.

The 26-year-old stepped up and kicked the match-winning field goal to give the Tigers their first win.

It’s a chapter in the Jackson Hastings story not many fans could’ve predicted.

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The 26-year-old was a Dragons junior and began his NRL career with the Roosters in 2014 before joining the Sea Eagles in 2017.

Early in the 2018 season, Hastings was involved in an alleged ‘incident’ with former Manly team mate Daly Cherry Evans. He was promptly dropped to reserve grade and the expectations that had grown over previous seasons faded quickly.

His contract with Manly was eventually terminated, heading to Salford in the English Super League to embark on a career resurrection.

The rebuild had a strong breakthrough in 2019, awarded the Man of Steel (England’s ‘Dally M’), guiding the Salford Red Devils to a surprise Grand Final appearance.

The following year, Hastings made the switch to Wigan and helped take the Warriors to their own appearance in a Grand Final.

Expectations certainly aren’t that high for the Tigers, as Hastings transitions back to rugby league’s premier club competition. 

But it’s clear he’s not only an asset to the Tigers, but entering the conversation as one of the best acquisitions this season. 

While sidelined, he demonstrated his commitment by purchasing his own plane ticket to Maguire and his staff in the box at Gold Coast’s CBUS Stadium in Round 4.

His man-of-the-match performance on Monday happened to also be his 50th NRL appearance. Still just 26, his milestone effort provides hope he still has a lot to offer the league. 

After scoring the point that sealed the Tigers their win, Hastings began running the other way and pointing into the distance. He was, in fact, not just sharing a moment with his teammates, but also his mum, who has never lost faith.

“I just started pointing at (Mum),” he told the broadcast post-game. 

“It was just a good feeling, I spotted her straight away in the crowd.”

Picture of Joel Martelli
Joel Martelli
The only thing that Joel Martelli loves more than football (seriously, we wouldn't be surprised if he has a Wollongong Wolves tattoo) is writing about all things sports. With a Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies Degree specialising in Journalism, he spends his days uncovering breaking athlete news stories and diving deep into play-by-play strategies. We're glad that he's put his passion to the pages of Only Sports as one of our dedicated sports writers.

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