Jackson Hastings is determined to rectify the pain and disappointment of a frustrating 2017 season.
Hastings played just nine NRL games in his first year at Manly. The rest of the season was spent with the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles in the Intrust Super Premiership.
And whilst Hastings’ name has been touted alongside Lachlan Croker and Tom Wright in the race for the number six jersey, the 22-year-old has another immediate priority to focus on.
“I can honestly say it (playing five-eighth) was not something that I came into this pre-season thinking about. I just want to be in the top 17 every week,’’ Hastings said.
“The fact that I didn’t push harder enough to be in the NRL team every week last year was the most disappointing part for me. I know what I am capable of. Deep down, I didn’t deliver.
“To play first grade, you need to also produce your best in reserve grade and I didn’t. I’m the first to admit that.
“If I’m lucky enough to get the nod at five-eighth in the NRL side, I will grab it with two hands. But for now, my focus is on getting bigger, stronger, faster, and improving as a player.
“Hopefully that gives me the opportunity to be in the 17 every week.”
Hastings, who played 34 first grade matches at the Sydney Roosters, said he found it difficult to lift at times in the Intrust competition last season.
“There were games where I played for Blacktown that were of first grade standard. But there were other matches where I walked off the field thinking to myself that just wasn’t good enough,’’ Hastings said.
“I have to work on shortening the distance between my good games and my not so good games. If I can do that, it will put me in a better position.”
As for playing alongside Cherry-Evans, Hastings says he has learnt plenty of valuable lessons from the experienced Sea Eagles half-back.
“The best thing about Daly is he doesn’t just say ‘let’s do this and let’s do that’. He is the fittest bloke at the club by a mile. It’s outstanding what he does,’’ Hastings said.
“Daly gets the best out of himself every day at training. For a little bloke, to see the way he goes about defence….he is prepared to put his frame on the line all the time.
“I draw a lot of inspiration from that. I am a bit bigger than Daly but to see him working so hard on doing little things after training is not only inspiring for myself, but for every single other player here.