After earning a recall to the top grade, Jackson Hastings will have a point to prove on Sunday against the man who almost took his spot on the Sydney Roosters’ roster – Mitchell Moses.
After being dropped to NSW Cup a fortnight ago, Hastings looks set to line up for the Roosters’ NRL match against the Wests Tigers at Allianz Stadium with Mitchell Pearce ruled out with a calf strain.
Hastings had been named to play for the Wyong Roos against North Sydney on Saturday but did not take the field at North Sydney Oval.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson was saying little on how he would shuffle his line-up in Pearce’s absence but Hastings looked likely to form a halves pairing with Ryan Matterson.
As well as being out to make a statement that he belongs in first grade, he will come head to head with Moses, who – according to Penrith general manager Phil Gould – went within a whisker of signing this week with the tri-colours.
On Friday night, Gould tweeted: “(Roosters chairman) Nick (Politis) rang today .. They tried for two weeks to sign Mitchell Moses. At 11th (Moses’ manager) Isaac Moses reneged saying he would leave him at Tigers to grow.”
Gould promptly deleted the tweet as well as his Twitter account.
When asked about the claim by the Panthers’ supremo, Robinson did little to douse speculation they chased Moses as a halves partner for Pearce for next season.
“I’m not going into recruitment. We’re constantly talking to our own players and other players,” Robinson said on Saturday.
This week, Moses and halfback Luke Brooks decided to exercise their options to remain at Concord until the end of next year, shunning interest from rival clubs.
“I’m not sure if that’s been weighing on them – they haven’t shown that to me at training,” Tigers coach Jason Taylor said.
“But if that frees them up a bit, then that’d be great as well. But our last few weeks have been really strong; there’s no reason that can’t continue.”
Both sides have been hit with key outs heading into the clash with Boyd Cordner (foot) joining Pearce on the sidelines, while Tigers hooker Robbie Farah has failed to back up after Wednesday’s State of Origin game one.
Robinson called for his side to finally perform even with key players missing, after having their season derailed by injury and suspension.
“That’s the nature of our sport,” Robinson said.
“We’re a contact sport and we’re a brutal sport. Sometimes, you get some injuries but Boyd was desperate to play.
“He even said it before the Origin game, he wanted to get back and get some form into the Roosters but it’s not to be and we’ll have to deal with it.”
STATS THAT MATTER:
* The Roosters have the worst completion rate this season (72.2 per cent). They are averaging 3.7 incomplete sets per game inside their own half, the most of any team
* The Roosters have dominated recent clashes with the Wests Tigers, winning 11 of 12 since 2010, including seven straight since 2012
* Defence has been an issue for the Tigers this season, conceding the third-most points (at 25.4 per game), the third-worst for tries (4.5 per game) and the third-highest for line breaks (5.7 per game).