Details emerge of Jackson Hastings' furious reaction to NRL axing at Newcastle

Hastings has paid the price for Newcastle's poor start to the season.

Jackson Hastings has been called out for deciding to leave Newcastle training after learning of his shock axing from the Knights' side. The halfback has paid the price for Newcastle's underwhelming 0-2 start to the NRL season, with coach Adam O'Brien deciding to replace Hastings with Panthers recruit Jack Cogger for the round three clash with Melbourne at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday evening.

Hastings learnt of his fate at training on Tuesday, before leaving early after reportedly being given the choice to train with the reserve grade side. The fact the 28-year-old chose not to stay and train has divided the league world, with the panel on NRL 360 discussing the situation on Tuesday night.

Newcastle Knights coach Adam O'Brien has axed Jackson Hastings after just two NRL games. Pic: Getty
Newcastle Knights coach Adam O'Brien has axed Jackson Hastings after just two NRL games. Pic: Getty

Veteran News Corp league reporter Dean Ritchie said he was stunned by Hastings' axing at the Knights and thought halves partner Tyson Gamble would have been the man to make way after a disappointing display in Newcastle's golden point defeat to the Cowboys. Ritchie pointed to Hastings' influence in Newcastle's 10-game winning streak and subsequent run to the finals last year and said he couldn't understand the decision to axe him after just two games.

“I’m stunned, I really am, because I think Jackson Hastings is their key playmaker, the number one man they go to when they need someone to lead,” he said. “He was a big part of the 10 successive wins last year, which drove Newcastle to the finals. And after 160 minutes, after all the work he did with him in the off-season, Adam O’Brien has got rid of his halfback.

“Adam O’Brien asked Jackson Hastings if he wanted to train with the NSW Cup side and he said no. He went straight home. So clearly he’s rattled and I don’t know whether he’s going to be ready to come back. He said ‘No, I’m done, I’m going home’. It wasn’t a dummy spit, please don’t misinterpret that, he was given the option and just didn’t want to be involved.

“Obviously he was stunned to be given the boot after two games. Tyson Gamble was poor last week. I can’t believe that, if they were going to make a change, it’s Cogger who has come in for Hastings and not Gamble.”

NRL world reacts to Jackson Hastings axing

Hastings has had a tendency to divide opinion at almost all of the clubs he's previously played for, with the Knights being the playmaker's sixth club in eight years. And his axing and subsequent reaction at the Knights could have ramifications at a club already struggling for form early in the season. NRL 360 host Braith Anasta was among those to criticise Hastings' decision to leave training early, while others pondered what it meant for the player's future.

“I’m not sure how I feel about him leaving training, I suppose he was probably shocked by it and just wanted to get out of there. But at the same time... (whether he turns up to training tomorrow) is the most important thing,” Anasta said.

Newcastle failing to get best out of Kalyn Ponga

NRL 360 co-host Paul Kent admitted he wasn't too shocked by the Hastings axing because the Knights were playing too much "sideways footy" and not getting the best out of Dally M winner Kalyn Ponga. “Jackson Hastings is endemic of the problem at the Knights in the first two rounds in they’re just very slow in the way they play, they’re slow through the halves, they don’t have a lot of speed out wide now that Dom Young is no longer there and it’s been telling in their performance,” Kent said.

“I think the team needed to spark it up, I don’t think the team is clicking and they play a lot of sideways footy. The 10 games in a row they won last year was on the back of Ponga playing some pretty impressive football and so far he’s been unable to do that because of the service inside him because they’re playing sideways footy.”

Pictured here, Newcastle Knights star Kalyn Ponga.
Kalyn Ponga and the Knights attack have struggled in the first two rounds of the NRL. Pic: Getty


Fellow panelist and league reporter Dave Riccio said Hastings had been given a fair crack at No.7 in pre-season and in the first two games of the NRL season, but failed to take his chance. However, he said the Knights "can't afford to lose" the playmaker because of the lack of depth they have in the halves.

“The basis of the Hastings decision, fans will look to the two games but he got the two trials matches too, internally at the Knights they’re saying we’ve given you four chances and it just hasn’t clicked," Riccio said. “They gave Hastings the keys to the car, they said this is your team, come and show us what you’ve got, and you’ll get the head start. He got the head start, Round 1, Round 2, duck egg, duck egg... The key for Adam O’Brien, he can’t afford to lose Hastings because he’s going to need him again this year, so how he handles this is important.”

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.

Yahoo Australia