Australian media pinning all hopes for NRL side on former Man of Steel winner

Jackson Hastings is one of the larger than life characters in rugby league and during his time in England that personality shone in his game with the former Salford and Wigan star eventually earning the 2019 Man of Steel.

Since then though the talented scrum-half has returned to Australia and the man who turned 27 today had a difficult first season back in the NRL which has prompted a switch.

Hastings had joined Wests Tigers, who are coached by former Hull KR boss Tim Sheens, however in a huge swap deal including former World Cup winner David Klemmer, Hastings has joined Newcastle Knights.

One Australian journalist and media outlet are now suggesting that all hopes for a successful season come down to former Wigan Warriors and Salford Red Devils man Hastings.

Dean Ritchie, writing for the Sydney Morning Herald has claimed Hastings is “the key” if the Knights are to do anything significant in the upcoming 2023 season.

“There is mounting pressure on Newcastle’s playing group and coach to perform in 2023 but a strong free agency drive has the club quietly confident heading into the season.

“The club has attracted players to cover a wide range of positions and clearly look more formidable in 2023. Hastings will be the key. He will finally give Newcastle some much-needed direction and allow Kalyn Ponga to shift into the halves.

“Some suggest Hastings’ kicking game is among the best in the NRL. Certainly his short kicking game is elite.”

Newcastle finished a disappoint 14th last season, whilst Wests who Hastings struggled to get consistent game time with finished at the bottom of the table in 16th.

If Hastings can recapture the form he displayed in England then he’ll be a huge asset to Newcastle, as Ritchie suggests.

Ritchie continues with his analysis of the upcoming Knights season and puts the 2019 Man of Steel winner at the top of Newcastle’s “three burning issues”.

“Will Jackson Hastings fit in at Newcastle? Hastings is a rare talent but has found issues at most of his clubs. He fell out with Tim Sheens at former club Wests Tigers. Hastings needs to find a permanent home and Newcastle looks like the best long-term destination.”

If Hastings is to find Newcastle as his permanent home then a return to the playoffs after missing out last year would be huge, even more so if the side can manage a victory in the playoffs which they haven’t done since 2013.

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