Exiled star dishes on DCE dust-up
Exiled NRL star Jackson Hastings has opened up on the infamous Gladstone altercation with Daly Cherry-Evans that ultimately forced him to move overseas.
The 22-year-old's career is back on track after signing a one-season contract extension with Salford in the English Super League in October - but the moment his NRL career was dramatically smashed to pieces continues to haunt the talented playmaker.
The former Sea Eagles utility has now opened up on his infamous run-in with Cherry-Evans on the night that saw Manly exile him to reserve grade and ultimately released from his contract.
The rumours surrounding his reported altercation with Cherry-Evans were so damaging he was forced to move overseas to continue his career.
In an interview with former Broncos star Denan Kemp on The Locker Room podcast, Hastings still declares there was not fight - and maintains he and Cherry-Evans were able to move on professionally the following day.
It was widely reported at the time Hastings had broken team curfew to go out until "all hours of the morning" during the team's away game in Gladstone, near Rockhampton in Queensland.
He was reported to have then become embroiled in a fight with Cherry-Evans after he returned to the team hotel.
Hastings now says his decision to skip curfew was much more damaging to his reputation than anything that occurred between him and his captain.
"We got beat and we weren't allowed to go out," he said.
"To be honest, the worst thing we did was break curfew and it's something that I look back on and it's just so stupid.
"We wouldn't even be sitting here talking about it if I just didn't break curfew. It just pisses me off that I made such a dumb decision.
"Looking back, I just can't believe that I broke curfew and that's what s***s me the most.
"It's true what they say, decisions make your career and I made a f***ing stupid one."
He denies he was involved in a fight, but admits there was an "incident" involving himself and Cherry-Evans.
"We went out to all hours of the morning and then the incident took place," he said.
"I knew I'd f***ed up the morning of. I knew the decision that I'd made was terrible.
"There was no fight. What's a fight? A fight is when two people punch the s*** out of each other. That never happened.
"The next day we sat down and spoke about it and we got on with it.
"I'm not angry at him. I'm not angry at anyone. I'm angry at myself for making such a s*** decision."
He was almost immediately banished to reserve grade, despite Manly already facing an injury crisis and simultaneous salary cap crunch which restricted then coach Trent Barrett to just a handful of bench options.
He says that was the moment his career turned around.
After linking up with Blacktown coach Steven Hales, Hastings eventually saw his demotion as an opportunity rather than an embarrassing public snubbing from Manly.
"You'd see blokes turning up with dirt all over their faces, cuts all over their body," he said of his move to Blacktown.
"I dragged coach aside one day and said, 'I'm not in a position to be angry anymore... look at him, he's just come from grafting a 12 hour day, digging holes or whatever they do and I'm complaining that I have to sit in a car for an hour and a half'."
"It just made me realise that it's my own fault and that being bitter is not going to help, being sour towards everyone is not going to help. Turn up with a good attitude and just train hard."
Hastings is now an option for English International coach Wayne Bennett after making a boom start during his six-match cameo for Salford last season.