Jackson Hastings on the All Stars, 'fun plays & and his World Cup hopes
Jackson Hastings hopes the All Stars concept is here to stay as he prepares to tackle England tonight.
The Wigan halfback is vice-captain of the Combined Nations side which will give Shaun Wane his first test as national boss.
The build-up to this evening’s international has been littered with problems, with stars being withdrawn and some coaches criticising the timing of the match. England's Jonny Lomax was the latest to withdraw, to be replaced by his St Helens team-mate Jack Welsby.
Hastings, though, is excited about facing England – in a side featuring Super League stars such as Huddersfield’s Aidan Sezer and Jermaine McGillvary, Hull FC’s Jake Connor and Chris Satae.
He said: “Going forward if they could make it a stand-alone weekend it would make sense, but the concept itself is bang on the money. If you want England to play against the best players, this is probably the best way to do that.
“There are players in this room who are fantastic. And they’re not just playing for the All Stars, they’re playing for their culture, for Mose... all sorts of people have different goals and our main objective is to win.”
Hastings says Wane and his squad – including his Wigan team-mates John Bateman and Liam Farrell – will face a side prepared to throw caution to the wind at Warrington’s HJ Stadium.
“We’re going to play a fun, attacking style of footy, we could end up in all sorts of weird, wacky positions,” said the 25-year-old.
“Tim (Sheens, coach) is renowned for crazy little plays – there’s a bit of money on a runaround play we’ve got set up, who’ll do it first. I don’t know if we’re to score, drop it or get penalised, it’ll be one of the three.
“I hope it’s fun to watch, we’re going to move the ball - it won’t be a touch footy game, but we will be trying to score some tries for sure.”
Hastings has made no secret of his desire to crack into Wane’s squad for the World Cup. He previously played for Great Britain, qualifying through an English grandparent.
“Definitely, it’s never changed, I’ve always been open about it - at the same time, it’s not something I have to speak all the time about," he said.
“It’s something Waney knows, so all I can do is play well and he’ll pick the team he thinks will win it, so we’ll have to see at the end of the year.”
The All Stars squad was only confirmed on Tuesday after a wave of haggling with the clubs over which players could be released.
England internationals McGillvary and Sezer were included yet despite being thrown together, Hastings says they have quickly gelled.
He added: “It’s been really easy, everyone sort of knows each other from playing against each other week in week out.
“They remind me how much they hate Wigan!
“I love Wigan, but it’s also good for me to step outside of those four walls and interact with other players, and get the chance to play alongside people who you wouldn’t think you’d get the chance to play with.
“I can’t say a bad word about it, it’s gone so smoothly. You play against them on the weekend and you may think a certain thing, and then you get into camp and get rid of the footy for a minute, and you get to know them as people and think completely different.”