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Does Jackson Hastings have a future in the NRL?

Jackson Hastings of the Sea Eagles warming up during the Round 2 NRL match between the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and the Parramatta Eels at Lottoland Stadium in Sydney, Sunday, March 18, 2018. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)
Roar Guru
18th April, 2018
11

Jackson Hastings is just 22 years old, yet he may not get another chance to play in the NRL.

The Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles are desperate to unload him after a pair of altercations with club captain Daly Cherry-Evans. The Sydney Roosters released him after falling out with senior players, including hooker and captain Jake Friend, and the St George Illawarra Dragons were not unhappy to lose him as a 17-year-old at the end of 2013.

Jackson Hastings is the son of Roosters legend Kevin ‘Horrie’ Hastings and was an Illawarra junior, coming through the junior ranks in Wollongong. While representing the New South Wales under 16s and under 18s, he rose to the St George Illawarra Holden Cup side in 2013.

In his time at the Dragons he put a few noses out of place before signing a three-year deal to join the Sydney Roosters from 2014. He made his first-grade debut in the final round of 2014 and became a regular bench utility in 2015.

With the departure of James Maloney from the Roosters at the end of that season and with Mitchell Pearce’s eight-match suspension to begin 2016, Hastings became the dominant Roosters play-maker, but it was a role he struggled in. He was dropped twice and played only 15 games as the Roosters fell to second-last on the table.

Jackson Hastings warming up with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

(AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)

Off-field problems arose and disagreements with senior players, most notably Jake Friend, saw Hastings released to Manly for 2017.

Hastings’s arrival at Manly saw him play nine first-grade games (eight off the bench) in 2017, spending most of his time playing for Blacktown in the Intrust Super Premiership. In 2018 he played four of the Sea Eagles’ first five games before the wheels fell off.

He was ruled out of their Round 6 clash with Wests Tigers at Lottoland with an Achilles injury, but it was soon revealed that he was actually dropped after a training fight with Daly Cherry-Evans. Manly tried to play it off, with Cherry-Evans describing it as a “lovers’ tiff”, but there was more to it.

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Revelations of a second brawl between the pair afterwards and rumours of altercations with two other teammates surfaced.

The reports continued to get worse for Hastings when it was revealed that Manly had organised a meeting in the preseason between Hastings, his manager, Sea Eagles officials, the Rugby League Players Association and a welfare officer due to behavioural and attitude concerns. The Manly welfare department will continue to work with him to ensure his wellbeing.

Manly Sea Eagles NRL coach Trent Barrett

(AAP Image/Paul Miller)

Coach Trent Barrett revealed his concerns for Hastings as a ticking time bomb, and he also confirmed that he would not be selected in the first-grade side again in 2018. Manly has launched their own investigation into the incident and many Sea Eagles players want nothing to do with him.

Hastings is out of contract at the end of this season, although Manly would love to see him go sooner in order to free up space in the salary cap. However, given his track record, it seems unlikely that any side would take a risk on him.

If he is able to pick up another contract, he will surely make an effort not to screw it up again. Alternatively, the best thing he could do is spend some time away from the game and get his attitude and priorities straight.

The good news for him is that he’s only 22, so he has time – he has his whole career ahead of him. Hopefully Horrie can help him pull his head in, otherwise he may join the career graveyard with so many other talented young players.

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