Jackson Hastings set to stay as Wigan Warriors full-back... for now

Adrian Lam plans to stick with Jackson Hastings at full-back for the foreseeable future.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 12:22 pm
Jackson Hastings playing against Huddersfield

The Australian has filled in at No.1 for Wigan's last three games - losses against Warrington and St Helens, as well as Sunday's 16-12 victory against Huddersfield.

Electric No.1 Bevan French has been ruled out for the season, and is currently in Australia, while Lam is waiting on Zak Hardaker (neck) and Jai Field (hamstring) to recover from injuries and come back into the selection mix.

Until then, the coach indicated he doesn't plan to move Hastings back to his preferred halfback spot.

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When asked if that was an option, he said: "I can't see too many changes positionally until we get (Hardaker or Field) back."

Many fans and some commentators have been critical of Lam's decision.

While Hastings, 25, has consistently been one of the Warriors' best players, they feel he can't be as influential as he usually is at halfback.

Lam's other obvious option would be to put teenager Umyla Hanley at full-back, a role he is well accustomed to at academy level.

Hanley played on the right wing against the Giants because Dom Manfredi is injured and Jake Bibby - who has covered the wing role - was needed at centre, with Hardaker and banned Willie Isa absent.

Lam's other outside back options are young centre Sam Halsall and fellow academy-product James McDonnell, though he is primarily a forward.

And Lam points out if he plays Hastings in the halves, one of the other two halfbacks - Thomas Leuluai or Harry Smith - would need to miss out.

He said: "I'd prefer Jackson in the halves, no doubt about it.

"But when you look around and you want your best players on the pitch, doing the job for you every week.

"For me, Hastings, Leuluai and Smith have to play - it's as simple as that.

"If I put Hastings at half, Smith goes on the bench and I'm working really hard with him to improve his game, he's got a bit of work to do."

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Smith scored Wigan's winning try on Sunday as the club broke a five-game losing run. Lam reported no fresh injury concerns and has two props - Ethan Havard and Ollie Partington - back from suspension and a head injury respectively for Friday's trip to the Giants. Wigan return home to face Wakefield the following Friday, July 23 and can look forward to a crowd with no restrictions.

Hardaker needs another week of complete rest before a bulging disc can be assessed but is likely to be out until later this month or early August, with Manfredi (knee) and John Bateman (ankle) also eyeing returns in that timeframe.