Jackson Hastings will return to the NRL at the end of the ongoing Super League season with Wigan’s blessing as Adrian Lam tipped the influential half-back to excel even further now his future has been resolved.
Hastings came over to the UK in July 2018 following an acrimonious end to his time with Manly Sea Eagles and won the following year’s Man of Steel with Salford before switching to Wigan at the start of last season.
The Great Britain international has long coveted a return to Australia, the country of his birth, and speculation about his future has now ended after it was announced he had signed a two-year deal with Wests Tigers.
While Lam acknowledged his professional disappointment at the news, the Wigan head coach insisted he was delighted for a player he brought in from the Red Devils and expects him to rise to the fore over the next few weeks.
“He’s the ultimate competitor,” Lam said. “You can guarantee he won’t leave anything on the field every week – and that’s training as well. I have no doubt that we’ll probably see his best rugby now over the next month or two.
“When I first heard about it there’s sadness there because he’s a player I brought to the club and a player that has been great for Super League and us, he’s been outstanding. He’s given his absolute all for this club.
“Jackson’s always wanted to go back to the NRL and play there, he’s been quite passionate about that and we’ve been supportive of that. Hopefully we can collectively as a group get some success together.
“I’m glad it’s out of the way because we can all move forward with it and prepare for what lays ahead for us. I think the players understand his situation. Jackson spoke quite clearly and I think we’re in a good place.
“We can’t dwell on the fact that Jackson won’t be here next year. We’re excited about him moving, let’s make that clear, we’re very proud of him for what he’s done for us so far, we’re very proud of him for what he’s going to give us for the rest of this year and we’re very proud of him and support him on his decision moving forward.”
Hastings – who helped Wigan to their first League Leaders’ Shield in eight years in 2020, when they suffered an agonising last-gasp loss to local rivals St Helens in the Grand Final – will leave a sizeable hole when he departs.
“This club is always bigger than one player,” Lam said ahead of Thursday’s game against Castleford. “We will always survive and sort it out either way and that’s the next chapter of my time here or the club’s future moving forward.
“There’s certainly not going to be a shortage of players wanting to come here, we’ve just got to make sure it’s the right fit for us and then move forward with it.”
Hastings, 25, added in quotes on Wigan’s official website: “I am extremely grateful to Ian Lenagan (chairman), Kris Radlinski (executive director) and Adrian Lam to represent this great club.
“Over the last 15 months I’ve really appreciated being part of such a historic place and the expectations that come along with that.
“Kris and I have spoken at length about what the future holds. Having such a great relationship with him, the door is open if an opportunity arises in the future.
“I’m really grateful to all the fans for putting up with the rumours and speculation. I have given everything I have to the jersey and I will continue to do that for the rest of this year.
“I am an extremely driven individual that’s super committed to bringing success to Wigan in 2021.”