“He’s arrogant. He thinks he’s won Grand Finals single-handedly before he’s even played first grade footy. You can’t talk to this guy, he’s in his own little bubble. He’ll wind up being the most hated bloke at whichever club takes him.”
It’s not often conversations had on the hill during a National Youth Competition (NYC) Under 20s game stick with you but as I sat on the pristine grass at aimlessly chatting with a mate as the Panthers and Dragons did battle, our little chat about Jackson Hastings, who was playing tremendously at the time for the Dragons, would stay with me.
In the lead-up to our chat, I’d ask my mate how good this kid Hastings was and whether or not he’d live up to the hype. My friend, who’ll remain unnamed as per his request, was an avid Dragons fan and the sort of guy that dug deep enough into the minutiae of his club that he’d know a thing or two about him.
He was unequivocal in both his praise and his dire prediction on the future of Jackson Hastings. My chum spent a good few minutes waxing lyrical on how fleet-footed and dexterous he was, how he had the ability to deftly take on the line and create space seemingly from nothing.
The kid’s got talent
There was absolutely no doubt that Hasting would make a lasting impression on the field of play as he went through the grades. My friend’s only concern there was whether or not he’d stick around at the Dragons when he produced his best footy.
From there he briefly discussed how a friend of his worked with Jackson’s dad Kevin, the former Rooster’s legend (I know, we’re in friend-of-a-friend territory now, but bear with me!). He said that his mate had spent some time trying to chat with Jackson at a workplace function. That’s where things turned a little.
The word arrogant was thrown out a couple of times. It wasn’t long before I started to get the hint, this guy as reading his own press before it was even written.
Hastings had a high opinion of himself. That’s not so much of a shock. Plenty of footballers and professional athletes come across as a little arrogant or cocky such is their self-belief and drive. That it stood out so much as the defining character trait of Hastings once the function was over though, that sort of stood out.
Hindsight is a pretty wonderful thing. Looking back on Hasting’s career to date and the fact he’s managed to wedge in time with three clubs already and had some rumour and innuendo spring up about how he gets on with teammates, it’s not hard to imagine he’s the sort of kid that rubs people the wrong way.
The wrong side of the big guys
This time, it looks like he’s managed to do the worst thing possible, get on the bad side of the one player at Manly who is indispensable. No player is bigger than a club, but Daly Cherry-Evans is about as close as it gets on the northern beaches. Upset him and it’s reasonable to assume you won’t be hanging around Brookvale much longer.
I don’t know the full story behind his latest issue and I doubt many do. I don’t know the kid personally, but given his biggest issue seems to be settling into a playing group rather than assaulting women or forcibly entering a private residence in New York City, I hope he finds some peace and a home in the game.
If one unnamed club recruitment manager is to be believed, however, then it may be a stint in England in the UK Super League is on the cards for Hastings given a distinct lack of interest in bringing in a potentially unsettling character to a playing group.
We’ve all been accused of a little arrogance or aloofness growing up, that’s part of the deal. At 22-years-old, however, it’s time for Hastings to grow up and find his place in the world and in our game.
Do you think Jackson Hastings will play in the NRL with Manly or another club ever again? Let us know in the comments below.
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