After three and a half superb seasons in Super League, Jackson Hastings has returned to Australia to take on a new challenge at Wests Tigers.
The scrum-half was crowned Man of Steel in 2019 as he guided Salford Red Devils to a surprise first Grand Final appearance before making the switch to Wigan and helping the Warriors to top of the league and to the Grand Final.
However, 2021 wasn’t the end he’d have dreamed of for his Super League stint as the Warriors lost in the first week of the play-offs to Leeds. Now back in the NRL he has some wrongs to right after his last spell in the competition but with his quality he has the ability to unlock Wests’ untapped potential next year and propel them back to the play-offs.
The same could be said of former England centre Oliver Gildart who has also made the switch from Wigan to Wests going into 2022.
It seems that there is a real feeling of optimism around the club now with experienced faces Tim Sheens and Nathan Cayless involved with the side and a return to the top eight is on the cards.
That’s the view of former Wests Tiger Moses Mbye. Mbye left Wests at the end of last season taking on a two-year deal at St George Illawarra Dragons but he believes the Tigers can improve drastically in 2022 after finishing 13th last season.
He told The Sydney Morning Herald: “I think what they’ve gone and done now is get some real experienced guys with Sheens and Cayless, and I think they’ll be a real threat this year. I think they’re definitely moving in the right direction.”
He also felt Hastings’ new halfback partner Luke Brooks could be ‘unlocked’ in 2022 after a few years of mounting pressure on the halfback and links to Newcastle Knights with Mitchell Pearce joining Catalans Dragons ahead of 2022.
The ex-Tiger said of his former teammate: “You keep seeing guys like Brooksy used as a bit of a punching bag, but he’s just an exceptional player.
“It’s going to take one little thing to unlock him and he’ll be away. He just needed a few more people around him to give him the knowledge and information and he’ll be fine.”
Despite that, he was adamant that he needed a change even though he voiced such faith in Brooks and his old club: “I didn’t have a preference where I wanted to go, but I just knew I needed a change from the Tigers. I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity at the Dragons.”