Skipper Mitchell Pearce has backed boom rookie Jackson Hastings as the man to join him in the Sydney Roosters’ halves when James Maloney exits Bondi at season’s end.
Maloney, who helped steer the Roosters to the 2013 premiership, heads to Cronulla on a three-year NRL deal next season, leaving the five-eighth slot next to Pearce open at the tricolours.
The son of club legend Kevin “Horrie” Hastings, Jackson has impressed in his handful of NRL appearances so far for the Roosters, since joining the club ahead of 2014.
“I’d say it looks that way,” Pearce said when asked if Hastings had the inside running to succeed Maloney.
“It’s all pretty fresh and not something we’ve spoken too much about but, if you look to the future, that’s probably the way it’s looking.”
Hastings has represented the Junior Kangaroos and NSW at U16 and U18 level and is considered one of the hottest young talents in the game, with his goalkicking almost the equal of Maloney’s.
Pearce, however, did concede Maloney’s loss was a blow to the Roosters.
“It’s disappointing news,” he said.
“Jimmy has obviously been a big part of the team, but you have to look after yourself. While it is sad to see him go, we will look forward to having some success before he goes.”
Hastings has been named on the bench for the Roosters’ ‘home’ clash on Sunday against Gold Coast in Gosford.
Sam Moa returns from suspension for the Roosters, alongside Michael Jennings, stood down due to an off-field incident ahead of the tricolours’ win on Monday over St George Illawarra.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is a chance to return from a calf injury that has sidelined for the past two games.
James Roberts could shift into the injury-hit Titans’ halves, with Aidan Sezer missing due to a hamstring injury.
The Roosters will seek to end an 11-game losing streak for home games they have played away from Allianz Stadium, dating back to 2006.
* The Roosters have a horrible record against the Titans, winning just five of 12 matches since Gold Coast joined the competition in 2007 – their second-least wins against any opponent in that period outside of Brisbane (four wins from 11 games)
* The Roosters have a dreadful record at Central Coast Stadium, losing seven straight matches there, five by 14 points or more. However, this will be their first trip to Gosford since 2011
* The Titans have been one of the worst defensive teams this season, conceding the most points (24.9 per game) and offloads (10.9 per game) while also missing the most tackles (31.5 per game) and conceding the equal-second most linebreaks (5.6 per game)
Stats courtesy of Fox Sports Stats