Jackson Hastings a 'perfect' half, says Knights coach
Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien is already convinced recruit Jackson Hastings is a "perfect" halfback as the former Tiger prepares to face his old side for the first time.
After an injury-hampered single season with Wests Tigers, Hastings was released from the final year of his contract to join the Knights which opened up halves spots at the Leichhardt club for Luke Brooks and Adam Doueihi.
At the same time, the Knights relinquished former State of Origin prop David Klemmer to the Tigers, though both clubs denied over the summer the deal was a direct player swap.
Semantics aside, the switch could prove a winner as both teams attempt to bounce back from disappointing 2022 seasons.
The last-placed Tigers were toothless through the middle last year, while Newcastle cried out for an organising playmaker as they plummeted to 14th on the ladder.
It was fullback-turned-five-eighth Kalyn Ponga who orchestrated the Knights' two tries in the round-one loss to the Warriors, but O'Brien has seen enough from Hastings to feel confident the Knights have got their man.
"I think he's a perfect No.7," the coach said.
"He's got enough cheek, enough directness, understands the game.
"That's what you want in your sevens and that's what he's given us."
During the week, Klemmer's new Tigers teammates expected he would need no extra motivation to fire up for the clash with Newcastle at Leichhardt Oval this Sunday.
Klemmer's exit came after a verbal spat with former Knights trainer Hayden Knowles that led to a meeting with human resources.
But the Knights are not holding any grudges.
"We thank David for everything that he's done," O'Brien said.
"Not only in his own performances, what he was able to do for other players here. He really paved the way for those guys and his professionalism has rubbed off on a lot of them.
"As a business decision that the club had to make, we were in need of a half. I guess the Tigers were in need of a front-rower. It was not a personal thing, it was a business decision."
Tyson Frizell will line up for Newcastle despite failing his head injury assessment early in last week's game.
The second-rower has trained well in the interim, passing all HIA protocols so far.
"He's got one more to tick today but as far as I know, everything's fine," O'Brien said.
"He'll take part in the game."