Hastings will be recalled to NRL squad, says Manly CEO
Manly CEO Lyall Gorman says utility player Jackson Hastings will be named in the Sea Eagles' squad to face the Sydney Roosters next Sunday.
Tuesday's announcement will mean Hastings will face his former club, which he left at the end of 2016 after signing a two-year deal with Manly.
Hastings, 22, has spent the last two weeks playing for Blacktown - Manly's feeder club in the Intrust Super Premiership - because of personality clashes with players in the NRL squad, namely captain Daly Cherry-Evans.
But an already bad injury list was made even worse in Friday night's 18-12 loss to Newcastle with another player gone for the year - Lachlan Croker, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Croker's injury means Manly have a threadbare roster of 21 fit players and it also means Cherry-Evans needs a halves partner. Hastings is the most experienced five-eighth among Manly's available players.
The Sea Eagles are 13th on the Telstra Premiership ladder with a 2-6 record following their loss to the Knights at Lottoland on Friday night.
"We've only got 21 to name and Jackson is a part of that number so we'll be naming Jackson on Tuesday," Gorman told NRL.com.
Gorman also said Barrett was committed to the club despite a Fairfax Media report suggesting the coach had been urged by confidants to walk away.
"Trent and I spent an hour before the [Knights] game on Friday night in the dressing room with our football manager Gareth Holmes, where we spoke about the current troubles," Gorman said.
"We are absolutely rock solid and committed to each other and absolutely rock solid and committed to the future of our club.
"There are speed humps certainly. But it's not adversity that defines you, but how you handle it. We've got to stand up and be counted and move forward – and we will – because we're rock solid."
One of the "humps" is waiting for the NRL Appeals Committee, headed by former Justice of the High Court Ian Callinan, QC, to decide if they will hear Manly's appeal to a $750,000 fine and $660,000 reduction in their salary cap, for discrepancies in up to 15 players' contracts over five years. No current player contracts are under investigation.
But Gorman revealed to NRL.com that Callinan had asked for more information from the club before making his decision.
"We've been asked to provide more details. I don't want to pre-empt the Justice's outcomes or decision but we're in the process of providing that to him," Gorman said.
Gorman said he would be talking with the NRL this week to see how the club could bring up development players into their top squad, without breaking cap rules and restrictions.
In an earlier interview with Triple M, Gorman said the five highest-paid players on the books – Cherry-Evans, Martin Taupau, Dylan Walker and the Trbojevic brothers Jake and Tom – were on back-ended contracts which meant there was not much money to spend in 2018 or 2019.
"This year and next year, yes," Gorman said in relation to not being able to go out in the market and sign big-name players.
"It's not uncommon in any club to have five players that sort of stand out among the field. It's also not uncommon is the movement of players. Clubs for years and years have moved players around for good cap management; players request to move – we just released Darcy [Lussick] to do that."
The chief executive was asked if the "Gladstone incident", where five players broke curfew to go out drinking resulting in Cherry-Evans and Hastings having two heated altercations, could have been handled better. The captain was later fined $10,000 and four unnamed players $1500 each.
It took more than a week after the round-five game against Gold Coast in Gladstone, for the players to be fined.
"Yes, I do" Gorman said in relation handling the fallout better.
"The first thing was the decision-making by a small group of players didn't help at all. The mixed messages that flowed from that wasn't helpful.
"Trent and I have spoken about it. He put a line in the sand about the values he wants in his playing group and we had to take certain actions. Some of those were delayed because of process – your great want is to come out within 24 hours and do what's got to be done.
"But there is a process under the rules which gives players five days to respond to any assertion or allegation. You've got to let process take its course."
Gorman also said there was "no club directive" for NRL players to go to Belmore Oval on Saturday and watch Blacktown, featuring Hastings, play Canterbury in the Intrust Super Premiership.
"They often go to support their mates in the lower grades. It wasn't just about Jackson playing."
Gorman said the club was reeling after losing their first-choice five-eighth in Croker for the rest of the season, along with another quality player in back rower Jack Gosiewski for a month with a fractured hand.
Winger-centre Jonathan Wright is having scans on Monday to confirm what damage he suffered to his hand in the Blacktown game.
Hastings dislocated the last finger on his right hand at Belmore Oval, but a trainer put the joint back-in on the field and strapped the fingers together. He played the remaining five minutes until fulltime.
Manly's injury list is:
Jonathan Wright (hand) - TBC
Brad Parker (knee) – Rd 12-14
Jorge Taufua (collarbone) – Rd 12
Jack Gosiewski (broken hand) – Rd 13
Lachlan Croker (knee) – season
Curtis Sironen (knee) – season
Kelepi Tanginoa (knee) – season