No putting a leash on Hastings' instincts
Roosters playmaker Jackson Hastings may end up taking a back seat this week with Mitchell Pearce named to return from a hamstring strain but his attacking instincts won't be taking a back seat any time soon, according to the young star.
Hastings produced an amazing try assist in his side's narrow 20-18 loss to the Storm last week, putting the finishing touches on a long-range Michael Jennings run when he chipped out wide for winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall to score.
With a numbers advantage, the sensible option seemed to be to use the overlap and send it through the hands but Hastings played what he saw and the result was a brilliant try.
Hastings said if the play hadn't come off then coach Trent Robinson wouldn't have been too impressed but at the same time wouldn't be telling the 19-year-old to rein in his instincts.
"It probably wasn't the percentage play, probably the pass was on," Hastings reflected.
"I just thought at the time the ball would get there quicker with a kick. I sort of didn't think about the repercussions it could have had and lucky for me it just paid off."
He said like any coach Robinson would generally prefer the percentage play.
"If that didn't come off he wouldn't have been too happy but in saying that he still wants me to play to my instincts, he's reminded me time and time and again, 'don't lose that little flair that you've got inside to play like a little kid'," Hastings said.
"That's how I approach most games – when I have fun."
He said he still tried to play like he did on the streets of Warilla in Wollongong when he was 13 or 14 with his mates.
"I was really lucky it came off but at the same time I backed myself to put it on the mark."
He revealed there were a few fans of that particular play – his family.
"My family are pretty stoked with it, they keep reminding me how happy they are with it," he laughed. "But I've got to keep improving now and build on my game for this week."
It remains to be seen if "this week" means another 80-minute stint alongside James Maloney, or a short stint off the bench behind frontline halves Mitch Pearce and Maloney, with Pearce named but needing to prove his fitness ahead of game day.
Hastings isn't worried either way though.
"I'm just grateful to be here and I approach every game the same, I work hard during the week, whatever happens happens and I'm just going to turn up and give it my best," he said of his selection uncertainty.
He'll be in the 17 either way and had nothing but praise for opposite halves Josh Reynolds and Moses Mbye.
"Moses and Josh are two very outstanding players and blokes I've watched as I grew up, they're both a little bit older than me and they've been playing great footy this year. I think the halves are going to have a massive impact like every game, the halves have really got to stand up and deliver, especially on the big occasions," he said.