A reported feud with former teammate John Bateman has emerged as a factor in Jackson Hastings' shock exit from the Wests Tigers after just one season at the joint-venture club. Hastings was one of the few shining lights for the NRL wooden spooners in 2022, before being ruled out of the back end of the Tigers' season due to a horror leg break.
The 27-year-old formed a solid halves partnership with Luke Brooks, but was surprised to find himself at the centre of a trade away from the club after the Tigers struck up a swap deal with Newcastle, in which Hastings and Klemmer would move in opposite directions. The move came as a shock at the time but it's since emerged that Hastings' relationship with the Tigers' English recruit John Bateman may have had something to do with it.
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Bateman is yet to make his debut for the Tigers are joining from the English Super League as a big-money recruit in the off-season. The England international and Hastings were formerly teammates at the Wigan Warriors in 2021, where they were reportedly at the centre of a falling out.
Speaking on NRL 360 on Tuesday night, co-host Paul Kent and league journalist Paul Crawley suggested that Bateman's signing ultimately triggered the departure of Hastings. The pair insinuated that Bateman was unhappy about reuniting with Hastings at the Wests Tigers, prompting the club to explore the trade deal to send their half to the Knights.
“The funny thing was as soon as we got wind that Bateman was going there, I got told that he wouldn’t play with Jackson Hastings,” Crawley said on NRL 360. “I inquired about that story and I got told that Hastings didn’t have a problem with Bateman, but I am pretty sure the other way around was an issue.
“And so following that about a week later, Jackson ends up in Newcastle and there you go. But there’s no issues....” NRL 360 co-host Paul Kent added: “Bateman and Hastings were teammates at Wigan and didn’t get on there, to the point where Hastings left.”
The Daily Telegraph’s David Riccio also suggested that another factor in Hastings exit from the Tigers was his vocal support of former coach Michael Maguire. The premiership-winning mentor was sacked after several underwhelming years in charge at the club, with 2005 grand final-winning coach Tim Sheens making a triumphant return.
“I think Jackson’s quite vocal support of Michael Maguire as well through that turbulent period, also played a role in, I wouldn’t say his departure, but his perception within the club,” Riccio said. “Certainly that’s eventually led to his exit.”
Jackson Hastings has nothing to prove to Tigers
Hastings insists there's no hard feelings with his former side, who he faces off against on Sunday afternoon when the Knights travel to Leichhardt Oval to play the Tigers in round two. The 27-year-old has been handed the reins at halfback for the Knights after the Tigers considered shifting him to lock, but says while No.7 is his preferred position, he doesn't “have anything to prove to anyone”.
“For me it is just another game, it is a club I played for… a club I thought I was going to be at for a long period of time,” Hastings told reporters on Tuesday. “Ultimately I ended up at the Knights which I am very grateful for too... I don’t play to prove anything to anyone besides myself and my teammates.
“It doesn’t matter, I’m not there... I don’t have anything to prove to anyone.”
NRL 360 co-host Braith Anasta said he took Hastings' comments with a grain of salt and was adamant the halfback would be determined to make a statement against his former team.
“I love his attitude, I love what he says, but I don’t believe it,” Anasta said. “He would want to win against his old club, who didn’t really want him, or supposedly.”
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