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Jon Wells: the English enigma of Jackson Hastings |  Rugby League News


Jackson Hastings put in a series of impressive Super League performances in 2021

After an impressive start to the Super League season by Jackson Hastings, Jon Wells wonders if the Wigan Warriors half-back should be part of the England squad for the 2021 Rugby World Cup …

Last weekend my colleague Brian Carney developed an argument made by our studio guest Richard Agar who, reflecting on Jackson Hastings’ man of the match performance in Wigan’s victory over Hull FC, has stated that in his opinion Hastings was one. of the best players in the competition.

Naturally, the conversation continued that Hastings was not part of England’s elite 35-player performance squad announced last month by national coach Shaun Wane and that qualifying players of the quality of Hastings should not be overlooked on the basis of their birthplace alone.

Jon Wells: the English enigma of Jackson Hastings |  Rugby League News

England unchanged for first Wane rally

Shaun Wane has named an unchanged 35-man England squad ahead of his first training session as head coach.

Hastings was born and raised in Australia, but is eligible for England under what is commonly known as the ‘grandparents rule’, his grandmother being born in Plymouth.

To give context, we must come back to the comments made by Wane 12 months ago, which can be summed up as his preference being to win the World Cup using players of purely English origin.

To me, such remarks are not helpful and invariably lead to confusion, as they have done here. Maybe that’s his wish, but that’s no reason not to select an eligible player.

Take a look at the current international eligibility criteria of the International Rugby League: “A player is eligible to play an international match for: a) the nation in which he was born; b) the nation in which one of his parents was born; c) the nation in which one of his grandparents was born; d) the nation which is his principal place of residence… “

Jon Wells: the English enigma of Jackson Hastings |  Rugby League News

Jackson Hastings represented Great Britain on 2019 Lions tour

It’s pretty clear – Jackson Hastings is eligible to play for England under Part C of the eligibility rules and we know that because Hastings was previously selected using those rules when he played for Great- Brittany on the 2019 Lions tour under former coach Wayne Bennett.

In my opinion, there are two valid talking points when it comes to international selection, and neither has anything to do with place of birth. The first is form-based selection – which is semi-objective; the other is the selection on “fit” – which is entirely subjective, is the prerogative of Shaun Wane and highlights the comments he made last year. We will come back to this point shortly.

For now, however, let’s start with the simpler of the two – form and its subjective and objective elements. Subjective? Richard Agar is an experienced and accomplished head coach and his opinion carries weight.

The same goes for Danny McGuire, who has also praised Jackson Hastings’ performances this season. The same is true of Brian Carney’s – despite self-mockery when the subject of his own distinguished international career comes up.

Jon Wells: the English enigma of Jackson Hastings |  Rugby League News

Whether a player is eligible to play for their country because of their place of birth or whether the same eligibility is conferred by their family heritage will always be a touching subject. I just hope that on the eve of the World Cup it will be a moot point.

Jon wells

Finally, take a look at the Man of Steel leaderboard – compiled by points picked each week by some of the game’s greats – and you’ll see Jackson Hastings take a top 10 spot after round five.

Goal? Look at the statistics. In a nutshell, Hastings is one of four statistically significant players for Wigan on a number of metrics such as tries, assists, line breaks, ranges and tackling efficiency after five rounds of the season. 2021 – the others being Jake Bibby, Zak Hardaker and Liam Farrell.

Objectively, Hastings’ non-selection warrants further discussion. And “fit”, then? Here’s where Shaun Wane gets his money. We all have an opinion on who should and shouldn’t be on the World Cup squad, but the performance of the team chosen by Shaun will also be the measure by which he is ultimately judged. That’s the big difference, and we trusted him to lead England to what we all hope will be a World Cup final victory that will define a generation.

So, does Hastings fit Shaun Wane’s playstyle and team lineup? Being a subjective question, the answer currently appears to be no – which naturally leads us to three names for which the current answer is yes.

Jon Wells: the English enigma of Jackson Hastings |  Rugby League News

Jon Wells: the English enigma of Jackson Hastings |  Rugby League News 2:19
Jon Wells analyzes Jacob Trueman’s impressive performance for Castleford against Salford

Jon Wells analyzes Jacob Trueman’s impressive performance for Castleford against Salford

Jake Trueman, George Williams and Jonny Lomax are three halves that make up the 35-man performance squad. They too are exceptional players and, interestingly, Jackson Hastings often refers to Lomax as his idea of ​​the best player in the Super League. Maybe Wane doesn’t see a place for Hastings when this trio stand by his side for quality?

And that’s where we’ll come back to Wane’s comments and why, to me, they’re of no use: he didn’t need to say them.

He already has full and unfettered decision-making powers over team selection – why complicate things by publicly ranking this selection policy? Because as it stands, if Hastings remains deselected and England does not win the World Cup, you can expect a lot to confuse these two facts, whether there is merit or no.

Finally, the caveat. Shaun Wane also made the following statement during the unveiling of this 35-man squad: “Names come and go throughout the season, but the 35 players I have named reflect my current thinking. They are all capable of playing. in England. They know what is expected internationally and the heights they need to reach. “

Jon Wells: the English enigma of Jackson Hastings |  Rugby League News

Shaun Wane has left the door open for players not currently involved with his England squad to earn a spot

The challenge by mid-October, for any names not on this list, is to make their way onto this list. This includes Jackson Hastings.

The bottom line is that Wane needs to pick the 24 strongest men he has in October. Clearly, currently, he feels he has the quality to win without the inclusion of Hastings. His last quote, however, leaves the selection door ajar.

Whether a player is eligible to play for their country because of their place of birth or whether the same eligibility is conferred by their family heritage will always be a touching subject. I just hope that on the eve of the World Cup it will be a moot point.

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