Hastings ready to step up in Pearce's absence
Roosters back-up playmaker Jackson Hastings says he is ready to step into Mitchell Pearce's shoes while the premiership-winning halfback recovers from a hamstring strain.
Hastings also has the full faith of his coach after playing more than 60 minutes in a tense win over Brisbane on Saturday night after Pearce went off injured.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said he is "very confident" in Hastings to do the job, having already given him two 80-minute games at halfback this year (once in New Zealand when Pearce was unavailable due to State of Origin and again in Round 22 when Pearce was rested).
"He's done well in the two big games that we had, going to New Zealand and also up to Newcastle the other week and obviously [the 63 minutes against Brisbane].
"He played a long stint and he got the team around and finished the game off so he's ready. Him and Jimmy [Maloney] have trained a lot together I guess when Pearcey was away in Origin so that's where we're at. Jacko will step up and do what he does."
Hastings told NRL.com after the game that while he and the rest of the team wish Pearce a speedy recovery he is ready to do whatever is required of him, while also praising Robinson for managing his transition into first grade to get him ready for just such a scenario.
"Robbo's shown a lot of faith in me and been really good for me," Hastings said.
"He's really eased me into first grade and I can't thank him enough. He's made my transition from 20s to grade pretty easy to be honest. I'm not saying the footy's easy but the transition phase.
" A lot of people get chucked in the deep end and either struggle or get dropped straight away because of how hard it is but he's really looked after me and I'm really thankful for the role he's played in my development."
Hastings said while he wasn't sure how long Pearce will be out he wishes him all the best in his recovery.
"He's a really good mate of mine and hopefully he has a speedy recovery but if it's me that's going to have to play halfback, whoever gets put into this team is expected to do a job and I'm going to have high expectations of myself to do a really good job for this team," he said.
One positive is the amount of time Hastings and Maloney have spent training together – including throughout the Origin campaign as well as when Pearce was involved in the pre-season All Stars game.
"When Mitchell's been away through Origin and the All Stars me and Jimmy have had chances to train together there for a full week and we've obviously played two full games together previous to this game against the Warriors and Newcastle," Hastings said.
"Hats off to Jimmy, he's really gone out of his way to make me feel comfortable and taken on a bigger leadership role when Junior's gone off and he's really looked after me and made my job a lot easier.
"He's such a vital cog in this team, I've learned a lot of him, he's so tough and competitive and he's just got this killer instinct in him where he never says die and doesn't want to lose. I've taken a lot off Jimmy just watching him and hopefully we can keep going," he added.
Hastings said he was immensely proud of the way his forward pack dug in on Saturday night to help graft an important win despite the injury toll.
"It was a very good win, they're a very good team, they've got rep players all across the park, we knew coming in this week it was going to be a very tough contest," he said.
"The game itself was very fast. I got out there after about 20, I had to get used to the pace really quick, our forwards did a great job tonight.
"I'm so proud of every single one of them. We had a big pre-season this year and every one of them stood up and they stood up tonight when it mattered most.
"We spoke about it after the game, we're all very proud of our forward pack and it's an honour to play behind them.
"They've just got big hearts you know, a never give up attitude. We want to be the fittest team in the comp. We want to be the best second half team in the comp and our forwards lead us around. With Jared going down the younger forwards, Dylan Napa, Kane Evans, Aidan Guerra, Aubo [Mitch Aubusson], everyone that played in that forward pack, hats off to them.
"They won us that game and as I said I'm very proud."
The side had plenty of excuses to lose the game but the fact they didn't shows what sort of a side they are, Hastings added.
"No matter what the circumstances are, no matter how uncomfortable we feel, we turn up for each other. No matter who plays, who doesn't play – as we proved [on Saturday night], we had one on the bench, there was people playing all over the park but you're expected to do a job in this team and I think we did that."