Jackson Hastings is willing to embrace ‘punching bag’ role at the Tigers as halfback aims to take the ‘heat’ off under-fire Luke Brooks after being picked at No 7 for Eels clash
- Jackson Hastings will start in the halfback role against the Eels on Monday
- The 26 year-old is ‘happy’ to take the scrutiny as Luke Brooks moves to No.6
- The positional change is an attempt to get Brooks running the ball
Tigers recruit Jackson Hastings is ready to face scrutiny in the role at halfback this Monday as coach Michael Maguire puts Luke Brooks in the No.6 jersey to reignite his playing freedom.
The former 67-game Roosters halfback has been called upon to take the spotlight off Luke Brooks, who has been widely scrutinized in a winless Tigers side.
Hastings says he is looking forward at the opportunity to steer the Tigers to their first win of the season, and to allow halves partner Luke Brooks to play his natural game, as Wests remain the only side in the NRL with zero premiership points.
Tigers recruit Jackson Hastings has been named to start in the No.7 jersey on Monday afternoon in an attempt to take the ‘heat’ off Luke Brooks
‘I’m happy to be a punching bag if I need to be one for him and take some heat off him,’ Hastings said.
‘Madge said he wanted Brooksy to run the ball, and if that meant changing the number so he can play freely, feel that weight off his shoulders and be able to be himself, I was more than happy to do so.’
The 26 year-old believes the positional change will relieve Brooks of the responsibility at halfback, meaning Hastings will have to speak up as chief playmaker.
Wests coach Michael Maguire has opted for a changed halves pairing, to spark the Tigers first win of the 2022 season
‘He’ll still kick the ball and take the line on more … I’ll probably be the louder voice on the field,
‘You can see the spring in his (Brooks’) step, and the weight has fallen off his shoulders a bit.’
Brooks, who is reportedly set to earn over $1 million next season, hit back at criticism last week which labelled the 27 year-old as overvalued and out of form.
Luke Brooks will start in the No.6 position for the first time since round 16 2020, in the hope to reignite his running style
‘I’m used to it now, everyone has their digs,’ Brooks said.
‘But at the same time a lot of people have never done anything in the game, so I couldn’t care less what they say about me. I’m just focused on playing good footy.’
Brooks’ last appearance at five-eighth was in round 16 2020, the Tigers losing 30-6 against Penrith.
Hastings and Brooks will combine for the Tigers on Monday afternoon against the Eels who remain unbeaten this season at their CommBank home stadium.
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