JACKSON HASTINGS is heading back to Australia – at the end of the season.
Wigan’s star halfback has agreed a two-year deal with Wests Tigers, starting in 2022.
The 25-year-old Great Britain international has been in Super League since July 2018, when he signed for Salford after falling out of favour at Manly.
Former Sydney Roosters player Hastings helped the Red Devils reach the 2019 Grand Final, when they were beaten by St Helens, and won that year’s Man of Steel award before playing for Great Britain on their tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
He joined Wigan ahead of the 2020 campaign and played in his second Grand Final, again won by Saints, in November.
There have long been rumours of a return to the NRL, and Wigan executive director Kris Radlinski said: “Jackson asked to see me on Sunday morning, where he informed me that he has agreed a two-year deal in the NRL and will leave at the end of 2021 when his contract expires.
“There has been much speculation about an immediate exit, but I have had written assurances from his management team and through my relationship with (Wests and former Wigan coach) Michael Maguire that 2021 was never an option.
“During my conversation, Jackson was incredibly humble and said he feels honoured to have represented the club. I could see it in his eyes that he wants to leave Wigan a winner.
“We have never doubted his commitment as a Rugby League player. He brings an outstanding attitude to training every day and plays his heart out every week on the playing field.
“Wests Tigers are getting a player who is deeply motivated to succeed and will drive the rest of the playing squad.”
Hastings said: “Over the last 15 months I’ve really appreciated being part of such an historic place and the expectations that come along with that.
“Kris and I have spoken at length about what the future holds. Having such a great relationship with him, the door is open if an opportunity arises in the future.
“I’m really grateful to all the fans for putting up with the rumours and speculation. I have given everything I have to the jersey and I will continue to do that for the rest of this year.
“I am an extremely driven individual that’s super committed to bringing success to Wigan in 2021.
“Now this is out of the way, I just want to get on with playing Rugby League. I am solely focused on 2021 and the goal we have as a club for this year.”
Wests chief executive Justin Pascoe said: “Jackson’s versatility and on-field ability will add a lot our team in the coming years, and we look forward to welcoming him to our club at the end of his current campaign with Wigan.”
Wests coach Michael Maguire added: “Jackson has shown himself to be an extremely competitive player and someone who wants to prove himself in the NRL.”