Jackson Hastings was one of the most exciting players in Super League during his spell in England, for which he was crowned Man of Steel, but now back down under he’s revealed the one Super League element that he thinks the NRL should adopt.
Hastings made the switch to Super League midway through the 2018 season but in 2019 he truly kicked on with Salford, helping the Red Devils all the way to Old Trafford and earning Man of Steel honours in doing so.
So impressive was his campaign with the Red Devils that he earned himself a move to Wigan, where following another two seasons of high-level play the Australian-born playmaker found himself a return to the NRL.
Hastings shone last year for Newcastle Knights as he helped them into the playoffs, but he’s still yearning for something from his Super League days and that is names on the back of players shirts.
The NRL still operates a system whereby the starter each week occupies the shirt number associated to their position, rather than in Super League where squad numbers are assigned at the start of the year.
Moreover the surname is omitted from these jerseys because of the nature of a constantly changing shirt number due to form and or injuries, but also because the backs of jerseys can be prime real estate for sponsorship.
Despite that Hastings has once again called for the NRL to follow suit with Super League and adopt a squad number, with player’s names also set to feature instead of the lucrative sponsors.
Having taken to social media the playmaker sparked debate and spoke on SEN 1170 Breakfast to explain his reasons for wanting the switch.
“I got hammered on a tweet about it, all the traditionalists came after me,” Hastings explained.
“I’m all for tradition as well, there’s nothing better than following a tradition or someone that played in the seven jersey.
“But the way that the world is going and the Americanisation of sport, the way pretty much every sport in the world besides us do it.
“Playing in the Super League, I took immense pride in the number I wore and certainly having my last name on the back of my jersey.”
He went on to refute the idea that it was necessary for sponsorship, believing the game already makes enough money, instead highlighting the immense pride it could bring instead.
Initially arriving in England mid-season Hastings wore the number 31, a number he opted to keep throughout his journey in Super League which signified the connection he had with it.
“Every time you represent your club, but you walk into a dressing room, and you see your last name on the back of your jersey (it) fills you with a sense of pride,” Hastings said.
“It reminds you of who you’re doing it for, you’re obviously doing it for your club, sponsors, fans and members but you’re also doing it for yourself and your family, that’s why you started playing the game.
“I think there’s definitely a spot for it, people were into me about the sponsorship and where that’s going to go and how much it’s going to cost to change numbers.
“I think he game makes enough money to make small adjustments like that, I’m happy to be proven wrong but I think that’s the way forward and I think most players would be supportive of it.”