Jackson Hastings insists he has no regrets over his decision to stick with Salford after turning down the chance to sign for Wigan Warriors.
The 23-year-old Australian half-back made a big impact with the Red Devils towards the end of last season when they won all six matches with him in the side and lost the two he was suspended for.
Hastings’ performances played a key role in Salford’s successful bid to avoid Super League relegation and his decision to re-sign for another 12 months was greeted with euphoria by his new adoring fans.
It is thought Salford outbid the reigning champions for his signature but Hastings, who was handed a way back into the game following a high-profile fall-out at Manly Sea Eagles, says he put loyalty ahead of personal ambition.
“I tossed and turned over that for sure,” he said. “There’s obviously goals and ambitions that I have in rugby league and the short cut to that would probably be going to Wigan and playing with such a powerful club and such great players.
“But I also thought I wouldn’t be here playing professional footy if it wasn’t for the chance Salford gave me.
“To repay the club and give it a crack for at least another year was the reason I stayed and I’m really happy with my decision.
“I know not many turn Wigan down – and a lot of people gave me a lot of stick for it – but, when you were in the position I was and clutching at straws to even play professional football ever again at 22 years of age, it was rewarding to know I made a lot of people at this place happy.
“It puts a smile on my face to know that I’ve lifted a lot of spirits and I hope to continue to do so.”
After his impressive cameo in 2018, all eyes will be on Hastings as the Red Devils look to defy expectations and push for a top-five play-off spot – but he believes he can handle the pressure.
“You expect that from yourself anyway,” he said. “I’m not naive enough to think every week is going to be fantastic.
“There are going to be some weeks where I’m going to have to take a back seat and just do the simple things well.
“And there are going to be games where I’m going to have to be the man. What I do know is that I’ll be putting in 100 per cent effort every week.”
And as he prepares for Friday’s opening game at Huddersfield, Hastings is confident Salford can hold their own this year.
“Previously I think when the opposition saw Salford, they would almost tick off two points, whereas this year, we’ve got a team that can compete,” he said. “We’re not here to make up the numbers.”