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NRL 2022: Jackson Hastings, Wests Tigers, Newcastle Knights, swap deal, contract, David Klemmer, Tim Sheens

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Knights recruit Jackson Hastings has opened up on his disappointment at how his Tigers career came to an end with a year remaining on his contract.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported Hastings was bitterly disappointed he was not in the Tigers’ long-term plans after giving everything for the club that facilitated his NRL return.

While Hastings is now excited for the challenge of helping lead the Knights back to the finals after his swap deal with David Klemmer, he couldn’t hide his disappointment that he was denied the chance to do the same with the Tigers.

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“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed,” Hastings told The Herald.

“I wore my heart on my sleeve at every training session and every game.

“Whether I wasn’t wanted or wasn’t needed, it took me a few days to get over it because I was angry at the fact I wanted to be there and be a part of the solution, not the problem.

“There were a few days there I was angry and hated the world for a bit.”

Hastings returned to the NRL in 2022 with 47 NRL games to his name for the Roosters and Manly before heading to the Super League.

The now 26-year-old scored 28 tries and 147 points in 86 games for Salford and Wigan in the Super League, winning the Man of Steel award as the game’s best player.

He was touted as the solution to the Tigers’ halves dilemma and led the club to impressive wins against the Eels and Rabbitohs at halfback early in the 2022 season.

However, Adam Doueihi’s return from injury made the halves a bit crowded with Luke Brooks also in the team and Hastings was eventually switched to lock under the direction of now new Tigers coach Tim Sheens.

Reports emerged Sheens was not a fan of Hastings, which saw the club move to bolster their pack with Klemmer and send the halfback to Newcastle on a three-year deal.

Despite the turmoil surrounding his Tigers exit, Hastings has a soft spot for the club and wishes them nothing but success next season.

“I’m a big boy, I’ve been in way worse situations than what has just gone on,” Hastings said.

“I still love the club, and when I say I want them to do well, I genuinely mean it.

“I’ve got no hard feelings towards anyone at the Tigers. When I go back to Leichhardt in Round 2, hopefully I’m not booed because I really do love the club and enjoyed the year I had there.

“Hopefully both clubs go on to make the finals next year and we meet in a big game.”

It was reported one of the reasons Hastings was moved on was due to his staunch support of former coach Michael Maguire, who brought him to the Tigers and was sacked halfway through last season.

Hastings makes no apologies for his support an affection for new Raiders assistant Maguire, who was and is more than a football coach to the playmaker.

“I would have done anything on the field for Madge, and probably off the field as well – he made me feel like I was 10 foot tall and could run through a brick wall,” Hastings said.

“We still talk two or three times a week, and it’s not even about football.

“He’ll ask me about my family, my mum, my sisters – it’s a special relationship that happens every so often with people you meet. I have a mate for life.”

Originally published as ‘I was angry and hated the world’: Hastings lifts lid on Tigers exit

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