Wigan Warriors-bound Jackson Hastings thinks GB tour will make him even better
Jackson Hastings is officially the best player in Super League but he believes his involvement on the Great Britain tour will help him improve and realise his full potential.
The 23-year-old newly-crowned Man of Steel was thrilled to be called into the 24-man Lions squad for the four-match Test series in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea by veteran coach Wayne Bennett.
And Hastings is looking to use his time in camp to work on his game.
"I'm really happy to just be here amongst the group," Hastings said. "I'm still young and I'm willing to learn.
"I've touched on it before, I've still got a lot of things I need to improve in my game to be at the level some of these boys are at.
"I'll be all ears in camp, making sure I listen to Wayne and the other coaches but also the boys that have been there and done that for England.
"I'm a footy head, I want to be the best I can and I think surrounding myself in a group like this is only going to help me."
Despite his stellar year with surprise Grand Finalists Salford, Hastings is no guarantee to make his Great Britain debut, such is the fierce competition for half-back spots.
He is vying with Gareth Widdop, Blake Austin, George Williams and Jonny Lomax - the player he argued should be Man of Steel - for two places, with the versatile Jake Connor also in the mix.
"There's some remarkable players in this group who are some of the best in the world so to get the chance to train alongside them and learn what they do through the week and take it all in is going to be very special," said Hastings, who will join Wigan for 2020.
"To be learning off blokes like Gareth, Jonny, Blake, George, even Jake, is going to be good, we're going to be able to pick each other's brains."
Hastings first encountered the 69-year-old Bennett as a starry-eye teenager coming through the ranks at St George Illawarra and clearly remains in awe of the former Brisbane, Queensland and Australia boss.
"I've known of Wayne my whole life," he said. "I think I spoke to him once when I was about 16 at the Dragons and he was head coach.
"I've obviously played against his teams but it's a privilege to know that he feels like I'm fit to represent one of his teams.
"He's the greatest coach of all time and to get a chance to sit back and watch the way he goes about it and obviously learn off him is going to be a huge honour.
"The few interactions I've had with him so far have been really good. I'll just pick his brain and listen really intently to become an even better player than I am already."
Hastings was among the second group of Lions players who joined the England internationals in Sydney for the World Cup Nines and they have now moved on to Auckland to set up camp ahead of Saturday's Test against a Tonga Invitation XIII in Hamilton.