Tigers look to Hastings for NRL boost

Scott Bailey |

Michael Maguire wants Jackson Hastings’ exuberance to bring confidence back to Wests Tigers as they try to break their horror start to the NRL season.

Hastings will slot in at halfback against Parramatta on Monday, with Luke Brooks bumped to five-eighth and conceding he is no longer in charge of attack.

The Tigers have been adamant all week that Brooks’ move is to free him up to run, but it comes after five weeks of intense scrutiny on his form at half.

Maguire insists the move is more than just about Brooks, with Hastings their only real spark in his last game against Newcastle before a three-game ban for a dangerous throw.

“I think he (Hastings) will bring confidence to the team, and I’m sure the team will get behind him,” Maguire said.

“He’s had a fair journey (from being exiled to the Super League in 2018). It’s been quite public, but full credit to him.

“He works really hard, he loves the game and he loves his teammates. I think that’s what’s going to show there (on Monday).”

Hastings said after the Tigers’ round-two loss to Newcastle that his team needed to play with less structure, something he will now control at five-eighth.

The Tigers attack has been woeful over the opening rounds, with their 42 points scored across the first five rounds their worst in the history of the merger.

But Hastings’ willingness to play enterprising football and desire to control is something players think can help in the switch.

“Jacko is very vocal,” recalled hooker Jake Simpkin said.

“It makes my job and a lot of the other boys’ jobs a lot easier when you have someone taking control like he does.”

Meanwhile, Brooks’ move to five-eighth has raised questions over what will happen to his place once Adam Doueihi returns from injury in around six weeks.

The one-time prodigy has rarely faced selection setbacks during his time at the Tigers, but for a brief three-week stint coming off the bench in 2020.

Brooks said he had not entertained the thought of what could happen when Doueihi returned, with Maguire also not interested in the speculation.

“I won’t even go there,” Magure said.

“It’s about what we’re doing (on Monday).

“Brooksy and Jacko have come together well and Daino (Laurie) is back in (at fullback).

“We’ve got our spine that’s worked quite well together. Seeing that spine come together, that’s a big one for us.”