Hastings embraces sea change
Sea Eagles recruit Jackson Hastings has described his move from Sydney's eastern suburbs to the northern beaches as "refreshing" and is keen to repay the club for handing him a rugby league lifeline.
The 21-year-old was seen as the next big thing at the Roosters, but a difficult 2016 saw him dropped to reserve grade and the Holden Cup amidst rumblings there had been some disagreements between he and certain teammates.
Hastings then joined the Sea Eagles after being released from the final year of his deal with the Roosters, but the playmaker says he holds no grudges for the way things ended at his former club.
"It's been refreshing to say the least," Hastings told NRL.com at the Sea Eagles' base in Narrabeen.
"I got told that they didn't want me which was fair enough. All the reasons were valid and I've got nothing but respect for that club and I appreciate everything that they've done for me.
"I think it was time for them to move on and obviously once they decided to go down that path, it was time for me to do the same.
"It was just a matter of finding a club that wanted me and a club that fitted. Manly showed a lot of interest in me, and now it's my turn to repay the faith."
Having been touted as a childhood prodigy as a teenager, Hastings said last year's events served as a reality check that will do him a world of good as he matures.
"Coming through the grades I was always pretty settled with where I was going to be and I knew what path I was going down. I hit a bit of a hurdle last year and it was all a bit different," he said.
"I think it was really good for me to go through some adversity. I had pretty smooth sailing up until then and now I know how to deal with it. In a way it was a blessing in disguise and something I can use to springboard forward through the rest of my career."
While he looks back at it all with a smile on his face, Hastings revealed the whole ordeal of finding a new club took a toll on his family.
"My mum and dad were obviously stressing out because they wanted me to find a club," he said.
"My manager Sam Ayoub was a massive help. I've got to give a lot of credit to Sammy for going above and beyond to make sure that I was alright and everything was sweet with my wellbeing."
Hastings hasn't been named in Manly's 21-man squad for the game against Parramatta, with the club opting for a safety-first approach as they look to ease him back into reserve grade as he continues to recover from off-season ankle surgery.
He will instead line up for the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles in the Intrust Super Premiership in the familiar No.7 jersey, but speculation is rife Hastings could be used as a back-up hooker in the NRL should the opportunity arise.
"I played a lot of nine coming up through SG Ball and Harold Matts. There was always good halves around me so they always used to chuck me in at hooker to make sure we were all on the field together," he said.
"I'm happy to play anywhere as long as I'm in that 17 somewhere. I've just got to continue to put my best foot forward at training and make sure I'm giving myself the best chance to play NRL.
"I haven't been training a lot because of my ankle, but I've been training all over the shop to get myself right to play in any position that pops up."