JACKSON HASTINGS says he’ll return to the NRL a better player and person than when he came to England.
The Aussie star’s time in Super League ended as Wigan were beaten 8-0 at home to Leeds in the first play-off eliminator last Thursday.
Ex-Sydney Roosters and Manly Sea Eagles halfback Hastings, whose career had stalled when Salford signed him midway through the 2018 season, hasn’t ruled out a return to the UK at some point in the future.
But for the moment, the 25-year-old, a defeated Grand Finalist with both the Red Devils (in 2019) and Warriors (last year), is looking forward to taking up a two-year contract at Wests Tigers.
“It’s been an honour to have played over here,” said Hastings, who was the Man of Steel with Salford in 2019 and made four Great Britain appearances that year.
“I’m gutted I couldn’t ultimately win the Grand Final and get the fairy tale finish, but I leave knowing I have given everything I possibly could, day in, day out, to try and climb the mountain.
“To the fans, thank you. Your support, the chants, the messages will stay with me. I look back on videos and it honestly gives me chills knowing how much love you’ve shown me.
“To every single player I’ve played with and against, staff members I’ve worked alongside, thank you. Each one of you have taught me something and given me nothing but help. I wish you all nothing but success.
“I could never split the two clubs I’ve played for. Both of them took a chance on me and put an arm around me, and I’ll always be grateful to the staff and the supporters.
“Now I understand what a privilege it is to be a professional Rugby League player.
“I’ve been to two Grand Finals, and even though we lost, I see how addictive they are. Who knows, at some point in the future, I could come back and try to get that Grand Final win.
“Ian Lenagan, Kris Radlinski, Adrian Lam, Ian Blease and Ian Watson. No words can ever do justice to what you’ve done for my life, never mind Rugby League. You saved me, and I’ll never be able to repay you.”
Wigan coach Adrian Lam is also leaving, and despite a disappointing season in which his side finished fourth, the former Wigan player insists the club is in “a pretty good place”.
In the aftermath of the loss to Leeds, who have twice nilled the Warriors on their own turf this term, he added: “I’m absolutely gutted.
“I’ve spent a big chunk of my life in Wigan, I absolutely love the place and I’ve had a great ride.
“I leave with some wonderful memories and I think the club is in a pretty good place.
“We have players leaving too (including Tony Clubb, who has announced his retirement), which is more important than me, and we had an opportunity to finish on a fairytale.
“But we didn’t get into our rhythm. We defended pretty tough but we didn’t really attack the way we trained.
“It’s been a bit like that all year with all the changes we’ve had to make, but I couldn’t have asked more from them. They were gutsy and that’s the way it ends sometimes.”