Jackson Hastings is set to sign a two-year deal to join Wests Tigers next season.
Sources with knowledge of negotiations expect a formal announcement within the next 48 hours as the clubs finalise the paperwork that will ensure Hastings' return to the NRL after three years in the UK Super League.
Wigan star Jackson Hastings will return to the NRL with Wests Tigers next season.Credit:Getty
As reported by the Herald last month, the Wests Tigers reached out to Hastings’ manager in the hope of luring him back to Australia immediately.
Wigan insist Hastings will not be released before the end of the season, but the Tigers are privately hoping things change in the coming months and might be able to add the 25-year-old to their roster.
The Tigers have close to $600,000 to spend on this year’s salary cap, which has largely been cleared by the departure of Josh Reynolds to the Super League and Harry Grant’s return to Melbourne.
The Tigers left money aside in case Cameron Smith opted to continue playing with the Storm and triggered a clause in Grant’s contract that would have allowed him to sign with a rival club.
Hastings' signature will provide the Tigers with a utility option to cover for the expected departure of Billy Walters to link with his dad Kevin at the Brisbane Broncos.
Former skipper Moses Mbye has also been granted permission to negotiate with rival clubs for 2022 and has attracted interest from the Cowboys.
The club is publicly backing halfback Luke Brooks, who after five rounds led the NRL in try assists despite the team’s sub-par start to the year. However, the signing of Hastings also provides them cover in the halves if the Brooks-Adam Doueihi combination doesn’t work.
While defence has been the Tigers’ biggest problem, they are desperate to add some attacking flair to complement the likes of Daine Laurie and Luciano Leilua.
The Tigers first met with Hastings’ Australian management team, who also manage Wigan coach Adrian Lam, at the end of last month.
Brooks, who was one of coach Michael Maguire’s first retention decisions when he joined the club, is contracted until the end of 2023. It is understood the halfback is on a contract worth close to $900,000 a season over the next two years.
The Tigers had shown interest in Hastings over the off-season, offering the former Roosters and Manly playmaker a deal for this year, as well as the next two seasons, but it didn’t get off the ground.
Hastings played 47 games across five seasons in the NRL, leaving the Sea Eagles following a public fallout with Daly Cherry-Evans and then Manly coach Trent Barrett after an altercation following a night out at a Gladstone strip club in 2018.
Hastings signed with Salford in 2019, winning the Man of Steel award for the best player in the Super League that year. He joined Wigan last year and has scored 20 tries in two seasons.
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