Hastings demoted to reserve grade by Manly
The Rugby League Players' Association (RLPA) is providing support to Jackson Hastings after Manly Sea Eagles confirmed the half-back had been banished to the club's reserve-grade team for the rest of the season.
In a news conference on Wednesday, coach Trent Barrett confirmed Hastings had been sent to the Sea Eagles' feeder club, Blacktown Workers, after he was involved in two separate incidents with Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans.
"It's unfortunate that it's got to this, but I will say the club has certainly done everything possible over the past 12 months to try and avoid it," said Barrett.
"This certainly isn't a one-off incident. We have documented a lot of things over the past 12 months.
"It's something we certainly would have rather avoided but we have to make some decisions in the best interest of the team and I've done that, and we just need to try and move forward while still providing Jackson with support."
Reports have suggested senior players at Manly refused to play alongside Hastings, but Barrett added: "I pick the teams - the players certainly don't. This is a decision that was made by myself and senior officials here at the club, so I'd certainly like to distance the playing group from it."
On the incidents between Hastings and Cherry-Evans, Barrett said: "It was a culmination of a lot of little nit-picking along the way and something that we'd been trying to avoid for a while.
"If it wasn't Cherry, it probably was going to be someone else. It just happened to be our highest-profile player.
"I'm not here to crucify the kid [Hastings]. He certainly wouldn't be the first player to be put back to reserve grade. It has gained a lot of momentum in the media. He does have a bit of an issue fitting in with the group at times, but it's not all the time.
"I'd certainly hope this isn't the end, because he's certainly a talented player. We all know that. He's young, I think there's still a hell of a lot of time for Jackson to turn things around and that's something we have talked about during his time here. And he's still here and we'll continue to do it.
"He's going to need some support over the next few days. I certainly don't like seeing a young player have to deal with what he's had to in the last few days. I'd rather it didn't happen. No one wants it but it is what it is now and we've just got to try and help all parties."
A subsequent statement from the Players' Association read: "The RLPA has been in contact with Hastings and other relevant parties following the recent reports relating to internal issues and his ongoing future at the club.
"The RLPA will continue to work through a process privately with Hastings, his management and Sea Eagles officials to ensure he is provided the appropriate assistance, wellbeing support and protection as a contracted player at the club."