Sydney Roosters young gun Jackson Hastings says he’s ready to answer the call should skipper Mitchell Pearce aggravate his hamstring in Friday’s NRL preliminary final against Brisbane.
After missing last Friday’s semi-final win over Canterbury, Pearce is set to re-join his teammates when the squad trains for the first time on Monday morning.
But should the NSW halfback fall short in his comeback – or re-injure it again during the match – Hastings said he was confident of delivering.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence that Pearcey will be alright. I don’t think we’d risk him if he wasn’t going to get through,” Hastings told AAP.
“But worse comes to worse, I’ll be ready.”
Hastings, 19, produced arguably the best performance of his burgeoning career against the Bulldogs, coming up with two try assists and a number of crucial kicks late in the match.
The second-year player said it was a relief to bounce back after a poor effort in attack against Melbourne in the qualifying final the week before.
“Against Melbourne it let us down. Me and Jimmy didn’t kick our best, and that was something we addressed during the week,” he said.
“No one’s perfect, but the closer you can get to being a good last-tackle team … it’s a big part of the game.”
Despite playing less than 20 first grade games, the son of club legend Kevin said his recent success in Pearce’s absence also gave him the confidence to overcall the more experienced Maloney.
“When I first came in for my first game, it was really difficult because I grew up watching Jimmy carve up for the Warriors,” Hastings said.
“(But) every game I’ve played I’ve gotten more confident in calling the ball and not being worried about if I make a mistake or not.”
Provided Pearce pulls up well on Tuesday, he is certain to be named by coach Trent Robinson, meaning Hastings will revert to the bench and back-up hooker Matt McIlwrick will miss out.
The Roosters fly to Brisbane on Thursday, with the winner to proceed to the grand final against either Melbourne or North Queensland next Sunday.