The 18th Man Column: Jackson Hastings has been a Super League revelation
Wigan Warriors fans have their say
Happy about the prospect of seeing Jackson Hastings in a Wigan shirt in 2020?Robert Kenyon: Definitely but it’s bitter sweet as I believe he’d be the replacement for George Williams. Having Hastings and Williams playing together would have been something of beauty to watch but I’m not sure that’s going to happen. Hastings reminds me of Sam Tomkins with a similar playing style. James Maloney would be a nice partner for him (if Mr Lenagan is reading and fancies splashing some cash) but it doesn’t matter what halves we sign for next year, without a decent pack no halfbacks can control a game so we need to strengthen there too. I’ve not been too keen on the whole cat and mouse game with signing the contract and NRL-release clause, I know the players have to think of themselves but after Edwards-gate I don’t want us to be messed around again.Jon Lyon: Absolutely delighted. Ignore the fact it’s only for one year, we all know he wants to head back to the NRL and he has every right to do so. If George Williams’ move to Australia is ever announced then the blow will be softened by probably the best possible replacement we could have realistically signed.On and off the field Jackson has been a revelation at Salford since he came to Super League. He has a great kicking game, elusive running, great passing game and a feisty attitude on the pitch. The prospect of him linking with our speed merchants out wide is mouth watering. Well done Ian Lenagan and Kris Radlinski for sealing this deal.Jeanette Lusher: I am actually ecstatic at the prospect of seeing Jackson Hastings in a Wigan shirt. He brings so much to the game for he has many attributes. His skill, ability, pace, tenacity. He is energetic and enthusiastic. He is inspiring and determined. He is inventive and unpredictable. He takes on the line and he has speed off the mark. He will be the perfect link between our forwards and our backs. I also love the fact that Jackson is such a character and has such rapport with the fans of rugby league. I am absolutely confident that he will be a fantastic addition to our squad!David Bailey: Getting Hastings in would soften the blow of losing Williams to the Canberra Raiders. Williams has flattered to deceive since becoming a marquee player but he has that ability on his day to be a world beater. Hastings gives 100 per cent but I’m still yet to see him turn it on in a big game, but with more quality around him I’m hoping we will get to see that in Cherry and White. What I’m most impressed with about Hastings though is that X factor and his off the field manner. Forever helping those in need and connecting with the communities he serves in. He genuinely seems to want to give something back these days and is an admirable young man who is very marketable. Whether he stays for one season or more I’m sure he would be a brilliant addition to the squad.Darren Wrudd: I would be happy to hear that Hastings will be in Cherry and White next year but on a couple of levels. Whether George is set to leave or not it would be good to hear that the deal one way or another is done. That way, if we are to lose Williams, the fans will have time to say goodbye and give the lad a send off. But on the other hand, we are desperately short of an organisational half back. Someone to guide and kick the team around the park and give direction and structure to what we are so very capable of doing, Jackson Hastings is that type of half. I would be most excited to see what we can do with that kind of guidance from the right position on field.
Hull KR tomorrow. Do you fancy Wigan’s chances?Robert Kenyon: With the momentum and home advantage yes, Hull KR will be no push overs as they’ve shown recently and with Tony Smith as their new coach they’ll feel they can beat us. This is the last of the five games which we needed to win to get things back in order. If we win this then all is forgiven, and moves us into the next game against Saints on the back of a few good wins and better form than last time we met.Jon Lyon: Yet another tough game, with Hull KR involved in some close scraps recently, not least in losing 19-18 to Wigan a few weeks ago. Whilst currently down at the bottom of the table, they have fought well to beat Warrington and Hull in the last three weeks and will feel confident of an upset.Although we are still not firing fully, our squad is reasonably healthy and four wins in a row and a much improved defence and attack will surely see us pick up the two points at home. Hopefully Farrell and Lockers can shrug off injuries to give us an impressive looking match day squad, and if Marshall and Hankinson carry on from the last game we look like having an equal attacking threat on both sides of the pitch for the first time in a long time.Jeanette Lusher: Hull KR are not a team to be taken lightly as Hull discovered in the derby last week. They certainly gave us a good run for their money on our last meeting as we just scraped the victory with a Sam Powell drop goal! Since that match they have improved dramatically in my eyes mainly for two reasons. Firstly the return of Adam Quinlan who can read a game really well and has great organisational skills. Adam has pace to burn and links into the line extremely well. Secondly their new coach, Tony Smith, has now been there for a month and is evidently beginning to have an impact. However, in the same time our team has secured a further three wins on the bounce and confidence is on the rise. The team has defended valiantly and attacked well whilst dealing with the adversity of losing key players and coping with the subsequent pressure on the subs bench. Hull KR like Salford will start with all guns blazing and so the lads will have to be on their mettle early doors. Home advantage is a huge plus but a good kicking game, composure and good discipline will assuredly deliver a convincing win for the Warriors.David Bailey: As Wigan’s roll continues with a settled side and competition for places hots up you can see the confidence in the players and feel it in the atmosphere from the fans. Each week appears to be a must win at the moment as Wigan look to cement their place in the top five and the Warriors need to take full advantage of the fact the majority of their games are at home. It was great to see the connection between Sammut and Hardaker and I’d be tempted to give them more game time to work on the combination. Darren Wrudd: You know, I really do. KR will be buoyed by their victory over local rivals last weekend and they sure put a lot into that game. They are no pushover side this year and save a couple of poor losses they have shown up well. But we certainly have the class to beat them well on our day. The combinations are getting better each week and although we have much to improve on, our new more inventive style of play is beginning to pay dividends. My money will go for a Wigan win 16 points or more.
What reception will Joel Tomkins receive?Robert Kenyon: He’ll get a decent welcome, the fans appreciate what he did whilst at the club but he left once before when he went to Union, I think people are over it. I think most fans will be sitting there quietly thinking ‘Joel is playing well, we could do with a decent back rower like him, why did that unsavoury event have to happen, if only’. And he’ll probably be thinking the same. If he carries on the way he’s playing I’d have him back but I can see him ending up at Warrington.Jon Lyon: If it’s anything less than positive then some people have very short memories. For sure his departure wasn’t his finest moment, but something is wrong if one stupid drunken rant cancels out years of sacrifice for our club.Playing nearly 250 games for the cherry and whites and with 64 tries, Joel has made a massive contribution to our success. I have watched in awe many a time when he has thrown an outrageous pass or offload to set up a try when looking certain to be tackled into touch. His sensational try at Wembley in the 2011 Challenge Cup Final against Leeds alone should demand he is given a wonderful reception.Jeanette Lusher: Joel Tomkins is only deserving of a very warm welcome at the DW! His career at Wigan delivered many joyful moments and secured some truly unforgettable rugby memories. Joel came through our academy ranks and served us well and he represented the club at international level on several occasions. After his sojourn into rugby union he returned to his home town club before any other. Joel’s career has been and continues to be exemplary apart from the one huge misdemeanour at Wigan. A mistake he deeply regretted yet he faced the consequences manfully and honourably tendered his resignation. In my opinion he should be given a huge Wigan roar and a round of applause!David Bailey: He should receive a great reception, but having left in acrimonious circumstances and the fact he’s a Tomkins he will probably kop a bit of flak. However the fact he left part way through the season and this allowed us to bring in Joe Greenwood early was pretty important to us winning the Grand Final as he played a vital role in the run up. Tomkins never hit the heights in his second spell at the Warriors and seems to have a new lease of life captaining the Robins but he will forever be remembered for that Wembley try against the Rhinos.Darren Wrudd: I would think he will get a decent reception from the Wigan faithful, he was a great servant to this club and is, when sober, a genuinely decent lad. My best memory of Joel was his try at Wembley when he ran on to score in front of his nearest challenger, a wheezing Jamie Peacock and the celebrations still make me smile to this day. The circumstances of his departure are well documented but he gave us some great memories and so should be welcomed back to the DW with that in mind.
Finally – if there’s one player currently not in the side who you’d love to see get a chance, it would be... Robert Kenyon: Once we get a bit more momentum and there’s a bit more pressure off the players, if it’s possible I’d like to see Harry Smith get a run in the team. Sammut and Leuluai are no spring chickens and with the rumours about Williams to Canberra and Hastings supposed NRL release clause it would be wise to start blooding Smith now ready for next year or the year after. Jon Lyon: Not Morgan Escare. It’s a shame for him he seems on the outer, he always gives his all, but every time we have lost this season the clamour for his inclusion reaches ridiculous proportions. It’s reached the level of the sentimentality for “Lee Briers for GB” calls of the past. Both are talented players, but for that many different coaches not to think they are worthy of a consistent place, well, they can’t all be wrong. If Sarginson is being picked ahead of Escare at fullback when Zak isn’t playing, for the sake of his career it’s time for Morgan to move on.I think Lammy has the team right at the moment, I would maybe like to see Sammut have more game time off the bench, but if we’re on a winning run then it would be daft to change the formula for the sake of it.Jeanette Lusher: I would love to see Jack Wells given an opportunity in the second row. Jack was just hitting the straps in the first team in 2017 before being sidelined with a spate of injuries last year. Jack has battled through all of these setbacks valiantly and is now working so hard on dual registration to hopefully earn a regular first team spot. Jack is getting some really good write ups and receiving many plaudits playing in the championship. It is recognition of Jack’s potential and efforts that he has recently secured a two year contract extension and this will hopefully open the door to an illustrious Wigan career for him. Good luck Jack!David Bailey: I think there are quite a few players that are on the fringe who have tasted first team action before that will probably get mentioned here, Jack Wells for example but I’d love to see Harry Smith or Umyla Hanley get a taste of being in the first team squad. These kids are the future should they progress and I think it would spur them on to even greater heights in the academy. Darren Wrudd: Escare, Escare and if he is not available, Escare! I don’t see why he is not given game time. When we need energy on field, he is a livewire waiting to spark off. I like his endeavour off the ball as much as with ball in hand but he can really make defenders stand up and plant their feet as he terrorises the opposition. Spell Tommy at hooker perhaps or even half, but when his legs tire – and they do – let the little Frenchman have a go or we risk playing a little too predictably when we need to keep opponents guessing.