Roosters praise Hastings' development
The Roosters – to a man – are desperate to have co-captain and halfback Mitchell Pearce back on the field, but in the mean time, are delighted at the job his substitute Jackson Hastings is doing.
Pearce was arguably missed against the Storm last week but Hastings has gone from strength to strength since the regular No.7 strained his hamstring against the Broncos at Allianz Stadium in Round 24.
The Roosters dug in despite the early losses of Pearce and forwards leader Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in that game to hold on to an impressive 12-10 win, and the confident Hastings has improved in every game since as his combination with pivot James Maloney has developed.
Maloney praised Hastings' efforts after the 19-year-old playmaker set up two tries and three line breaks against the Bulldogs on Friday night.
"He's done a really good job. Hopefully Pearcey will be available this week, that's sort of been the goal I think from the original [injury] so hopefully he can get back," Maloney said.
"He was pushing to get back this week and it didn't quite happen. Hopefully he's available this week but Jacko's done a really good job filling in."
He said he had spoken with Hastings before the game at a wet and slippery Allianz Stadium on Friday about how important their kicking game would be to get the win in that one.
"I thought we kicked well... he's got in and steered the side around and hasn't tried to overplay his hand, he's got them round the park and done his role and the side's done well with him there," he said.
Back-rower Boyd Cordner added Hastings had flourished with the chance to string some games together in his preferred No.7 position.
"He's a confident kid and there's been a lot of talk on him so far but he deserves all the raps he gets, he's been playing really well," Cordner said.
"He's fitted right in and hasn't missed a beat. He's getting better game by game. We'll see how Pearcey is this week and reassess him but if not he's more than capable of doing the job.
"He's been a great player for a while now, all through the younger grades and stepping up into first grade he's made that transition pretty good. It's good to have him there."
Coach Trent Robinson said Pearce would have played against the Bulldogs had it been a grand final but didn't want to risk him with another two games to come, but indicated his first-choice halfback would likely return for the preliminary final match at Suncorp Stadium.