Jackson Hastings insists best is yet to come

Jackson Hastings takes on the Leeds defence
Jackson Hastings takes on the Leeds defence

Castleford coach Daryl Powell has no doubt Jackson Hastings is the top player in Super League but the Salford playmaker says his best is yet to come.

The 23-year-old Australian half-back has been a revelation in Super League and has almost single-handedly steered the Red Devils to within sight of Old Trafford as they prepare to take on Powell's men in the elimination semi-final at the AJ Bell Stadium on Thursday.

Hastings, who will be a Wigan player in 2020, is the hot favourite to end his Salford stint as the Steve Prescott Man of Steel but insists he is far from the finished article.

"There's been moments this year where I've been really proud of what I've been able to achieve on the field and there have been moments where I'd liked to have done more," he said.

"My game is nowhere near perfect. There's a couple of little things that I need to fix up."

Salford's record eight-match winning run came to an end last Friday with an 18-12 defeat at Wigan in the first round of the play-offs despite the best efforts of Hastings.

"I think he's been the best player in the comp," Powell said. "He's been superb.

"He runs more than any other half-back in the competition. Blake Austin is close but, for me, I think he's been better.

"You know what he's going to do but it's stopping him. He uses the short sides and he opens teams up.

"He's just a genuine rugby league player. He thinks about everything he does and he looks really focused.

"So we know it's going to be tough. As long as we get after him, we'll do our best to nullify his impact."

Hastings, who left the NRL under a cloud, is grateful to the Red Devils for helping him rebuild his career and even more indebted to his mother, Megan, who split up from his father Kevin Hastings, a former player with Sydney Roosters, when he was young and became a mentor for her son.

"My mum has always been there for me," he said. "She's really old school. She said no matter what happens just go out there and compete to the best of your ability.

"Hopefully I've done myself proud in that aspect of the game because that's what you build your foundations on.

"All the tries and the pretty stuff comes on the back of hard work and hopefully I've shown people that I'm willing to work hard for my team-mates."

Hastings is hoping his mother will fly over to catch the culmination to the season but says he is being kept in the dark.

"I think my mum's trying to bluff me and act like she's not coming over," he said. "But I think she is.

"Fingers crossed, it would be good. My mum's been there every step of the way and it's been disappointing that she hasn't been able to get out this year and watch me play.

"She came over last year to watch me play and I got red-carded the first game.

"She's seen me play once in two years live which is really unusual for our family. But I've got two little sisters that need taking care of at home.

"Mum's obviously disappointed that she can't watch all the time but she gets updated by the fans. They blow her phone up, she wakes up to about 200 messages."

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