Wigan-bound Hastings: We're on right track

Jackson Hastings
Jackson Hastings

Jackson Hastings is confident Great Britain can salvage their tour of the southern hemisphere.

The Lions have suffered narrow defeats in both matches so far, against a Tongan Invitational XIII and New Zealand, but have an opportunity to level the two-Test series with the Kiwis in Christchurch on Saturday.

While his big rival for the 2019 Man of Steel award and fellow Australia-born half-back Blake Austin will make his Great Britain debut as a makeshift winger, Hastings gets a chance to cement the number seven jersey.

Coach Wayne Bennett spoke on the eve of the first Test in Auckland of Hastings' opportunity to stake a claim for a 2021 World Cup spot, and the Wigan-bound player is determined to make the most of it.

"I didn't know he said that to be honest," Hastings said. "I don't really listen to much any more. I've learned to keep all 10 toes on the ground and just focus on yourself.

"If he did say that, that's obviously a pretty nice thing to hear, especially from someone of his ilk.

"In saying that, I'm just solely focused on what I'm doing at the present, keeping on playing good footy and improving my game and, if stuff comes out of that, that's what I'd love to happen but you've got to earn that."

While Bennett is forced through injury into making further changes to his side, Hastings will line up alongside Gareth Widdop for the third successive week and believes their half-back partnership is starting to blossom.

"It's always hard coming into camp on the back of never having played together before but from game one to game two there were massive strides in the right direction," Hastings said.

"We played some great footy with the ball, we kicked well and we both defended really well.

"Our communication and our shape, everything is there, we just need to get on the front foot and get the bounce of the ball this week and make it happen and turn those losses into wins.

"The mood is great in the camp. We're in a very good place at the minute.

"Obviously the results aren't quite where we wanted them to be but we're building, and the way we played the second 40 last Saturday, there are positive signs moving forward."

New Zealand: R Tuivasa-Sheck (NZ Warriors); K Maumalo (NZ Warriors), C Nicoll-Klokstad (Canberra), J Manu (Sydney Roosters), J Isaako (Brisbane); S Johnson (Cronulla), B Marshall (Wests Tigers, capt); Z Tetevano (Sydney Roosters), B Smith (Melbourne), J Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters), B Nikora (Cronulla), C Harawira-Naera (Canterbury Bulldogs), J Tapine (Canberra). Replacements: K Nikorima (Brisbane), K Proctor (Gold Coast), L Ah Mau (NZ Warriors), A Blair (NZ Warriors).

Great Britain: J Lomax (St Helens); J McGillvary (Huddersfield), J Hughes (Warrington), J Connor (Hull FC), B Austin (Warrington); G Widdop (St George Illawarra), J Hastings (Salford); C Hill (Warrington), J Hodgson (Canberra), T Burgess (South Sydney), J Bateman (Canberra), E Whitehead (Canberra), J Graham (St George Illawarra, capt). Replacements: J Jones (Salford), D Clark (Warrington), A Walmsley (St Helens), L Thompson (St Helens).

Referee: G Sutton (Australia).