Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire believes Jackson Hastings is ready to prove his worth in the NRL after leaving a good first impression in the side’s trial win over the Roosters last month.
Maguire fronted the media on Friday morning ahead of the side’s season opener against Melbourne with expectation continuing to grow on the joint venture after a decade of not making the finals.
The under-pressure coach has turned to Hastings to help fix the side’s woes with the former Rooster and Sea Eagles playmaker preparing for his first game back in the NRL since 2018.
Maguire is confident a successful stint in the Super League, where Hastings claimed the man of steel for best player in 2019, has the 26-year-old primed for a strong return to the game in Australia.
“I think the connection of Jacko with the players was really pleasing,” Maguire said.
“He only had that one game but how he and Brooksy (Luke Brooks) are coming together and Daine [Laurie] out the back.
“That will only continue to grow as we build more connections in games. The pleasing part of Jacko coming in he’s just about the team and wanting to grow to where we want to get to.
Hastings creates for Seyfarth
“I’ve watched him quite a bit overseas. I think he’s been playing at a really high level so seeing that come out here and playing back in the NRL and building his game to where he wants to get it to.
“He’s had a lot of success over there, when he did a great job getting Salford to the grand final and has played for Wigan who have high expectations on how they go about their game.”
Maguire is under no illusions the side has a tough challenge first up against the Storm but dismissed suggestions he was a short-priced favourite to be the first coach sacked this season.
“I don’t pay too much attention to that,” he said.
“There are markets for coaches who have been at the top of the ladder too and it’s probably exactly the same.
“It’s all part of the game. For myself it’s about getting the players to start performing in a consistent matter. I enjoy the expectation with what comes with the job.”
After three years in the top job, Maguire welcomed the pressure of the season ahead and was confident he had a side capable of performing to their potential.
“All the time, wherever you are in this game there’s the same [pressure],” he said.
“It’s a club we all want to rise. We’ve gone through a fair bit in the last couple of years but it’s about what we do now.
“The big thing I’ve seen the players really focus on is how we want to play our game and make sure we can do the things we can control.
“It’s the style of the Wests Tigers and how we go about things.”