Wigan Warriors target Jackson Hastings 'well equipped to handle speculation'

Jackson Hastings. SWPix
Jackson Hastings. SWPix

Salford’s in-demand half-back Jackson Hastings insists he will not be distracted by mounting speculation over his future.

The 23-year-old Australian is among a host of Red Devils players out of contract and attracting interest from Super League rivals including being linked with Wigan.

Hastings is also thought to have fielded an offer to return to the NRL.

Coach Ian Watson blamed the distraction for his club’s recent surprise home defeat by Hull KR in the Challenge Cup, claiming “six or seven” of his players “have had their heads turned”.

Second rower Josh Jones this week signed a deal to join Hull from 2020 and Hastings would not be surprised if Watson himself is a target for other clubs following his sterling work in difficult circumstances.

“I think I know who he was talking about but it’s one of those things,” said Hastings. “It could change the lives of some people so you could understand why they would be distracted.

“I’ve been through it before and I understand the process of it. I definitely wasn’t distracted by it.

“For me it’s business as usual, it’s all part of the job. You’ve got to be able to handle it and I think I’m pretty well equipped to handle it.”

Hastings, who will be leading Salford’s bid to avenge their Cup defeat when the Red Devils take on Hull KR at the Magic Weekend at Anfield on Sunday, admits he is starting to consider his future.

“Yeah a little bit,” said the former Manly player who rejected an offer from Wigan at the end of last season in favour of staying with Salford for 2019.

“You can’t hold off forever because you might miss the boat.

“I’ve got a manager that deals with the clubs and the money, I just turn up at the weekend and do my absolute best for Salford.”

Hastings has got his career back on track in his 10 months in Super League following an ignominious exit from Manly and he credits Watson for the turnaround.

“I’d be surprised if someone wasn’t chasing after Watto,” he said. “He makes you really want to go out there and put your body on the line for him.

“For me personally, he’s taken my game to a whole new level. He’s given me the freedom and a certain way to play, it’s a breath of fresh air for me.

“I’m doing things that I’ve wanted to be able to do but was held back by structure in the past.

“Watto has left me off the leash and do my thing. He’s a great coach, someone I’m really proud to work under.”

Salford remain in contention for a play-off spot, just two points behind fifth-placed Castleford.

“We’re doing really well,” Hastings added. “It’s all positive at the moment.

“We had a disappointing result on the weekend but we have a chance to bounce back against Hull KR.

“They knocked us out of the cup so we have a chance to rectify a few things we didn’t do so well on one of the great stages of the world.”