Jackson Hastings has spoken openly about the impact of his strained relationship with his father, while Mark Carroll’s new role with Manly is revealed, writes Phil Rothfield.
An emotional Jackson Hastings has spoken for the first time of the trauma of growing up without his dad, Roosters legend Kevin Hastings.
“I remember when it was Father’s Day at school,” he said. “Everyone would bring their dad into the classroom to look at the artwork and stuff.
“I was sitting there on my own. Teachers would say ‘where’s your dad?’ He was in America doing his own thing. I probably didn’t realise how tough and traumatic it was for me.”
Hastings is speaking to James Graham on his podcast The Bye Round. It’s as emotional as it gets. The Knights halfback is remarkably open about his relationship with his father.
“I respect what my dad did in the game,” he says, “but we’re not close as a father and son. We don’t talk often.
“It’s traumatic (parents separate). I used to cry myself to sleep some nights.
“In real life he was never there. I had a mum who was my mum and my dad. I could never come home from school and kick the footy with dad.”
However he insists he is not blaming his father for the drama and fall outs at his previous clubs the Roosters, Manly and Wests Tigers.
“I blame myself for every situation I’ve put myself in,” he said.
“I’m grateful I’m able to sit here and talk about it with someone I respect. It feels like the weight of the world has fallen off my shoulders.
“It’s pretty powerful that we’re able to sit here and talk about reaching out for help.
“A lot of people find it embarrassing but if it’s going to save lives and help our youth.”
Hastings says it wasn’t until he left Manly for England that he got his life together.
“I waited too long to get help,” he said. “It was on the plane to England and I had 24 hours to think about what I wanted to achieve.
“I wrote notes in my phone. One was not to fall out with anyone. The second was to get help. Third thing was to play good football and the fourth thing was to be a good teammate.
“Get out of bed each day and do the four things. Enjoy life and embrace what I was doing.”
SPUDD PUTS PRIDE BACK INTO MANLY
Manly has hired club legend Mark ‘Spudd’ Carroll to put the pride and grunt back into the Sea Eagles’ forward pack.
The old front-row enforcer has been punishing the middle forwards in brutal 6am Saturday morning sessions at his Woolloomooloo gym.
Lacking oomph and control of the middle was Manly’s biggest issue last year as they bombed out of contention with seven straight losses.
Carroll is convinced they can turn it around.
“Teams used to be petrified about playing at Brookie because they knew they’d be going home with bumps and bruises from the physical exchanges,” Spudd said.
“These boys can do the same. They ripped in and I could see the aggression and desire in their eyes.”
Toughness and aggression were Carroll’s trademarks in a 185-game NRL career at Penrith, Souths and Manly.
“I used to say if you train hard the playing is easy,” Spudd said. “And no side can play finals without dominating front-rowers.
“I remember one year when I was playing I got 180 stitches in my head from collisions. And (Steve) ‘Beaver’ Menzies scored 23 tries. That’s the job of a middle forward.
“Work hard, dominate and lay the platform.”
Origin and Kangaroos forward Jake Trbojevic felt every minute of the sessions.
“It was old school hard and punishing,” Trbojevic said. “The way he trained us was the way he played. Spudd’s got so much passion. He wants us to do well and he wants to contribute.”
It was Carroll who contacted new coach Anthony Seibold when he first arrived to take over from Des Hasler.
“He really cares about the players and the club,” Seibold says. “The sessions were really positive and we got lots out of it. To have Spudd and other former players behind us is really important.”
Originally published as What’s the Buzz: Jackson Hastings reveals trauma of growing up without his father