Cordner: No Hastings issues at Roosters
JACKSON Hastings is allegedly offside with some teammates at Manly - but he is certainly onside with the opposition players he could confront this weekend.
Roosters skipper Boyd Cordner - speaking ahead of Sunday's match against Manly at Allianz Stadium - described Hastings as a "good bloke" with "good qualities."
With regular five-eighth Lachlan Croker out injured for the season, the exiled Hastings was picked in jumper 19 for the Roosters game.
Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett named Dylan Walker at five-eighth with recruit Moses Suli coming into the centres on debut for Manly.
Manly would need to upgrade Suli - a current development player - into their full-time squad for him to play.
The club will need to seek dispensation from the NRL for Suli to play this weekend. A final decision by the NRL hasn't yet been reached.
Manly's initial approach was rejected with the NRL suggesting the club had other players in their full-time squad to cover Suili's position.
Should the club upgrade Suli, he would remain in the full-time squad all season, leaving Manly with just one vacancy to fill for the remainder of the year.
Barrett won't officially cull his side back to 17 until Saturday - 24 hours before the match.
Hastings' best hope would be a place on the interchange bench.
Cordner reluctantly entered the debate about Hastings - a former Rooster - at a club media day.
"I've heard about it (the Hastings drama) - it's hard not to. It's everywhere at the moment," Cordner said.
"Look, what I know of the situation at Manly is nothing, but what I know about Jackson, him being here at the Roosters, he was fine and the team got along with him really well, and everything like that.
"From my part here, I know Jackson and I think he's a good bloke.
"He definitely has some good qualities as a football player and as a person too. That's all I can say on it.
"I don't know what is going on at Manly. I won't touch that."
Reminded of the mass exposure Hastings has attracted, Cordner said: "I'm not too sure of the whole situation. I don't really want to comment on it too much further."
Cordner, however, knows Manly will be desperate for victory after a horrible month. The Sea Eagles have lost four successive matches.
"It is always tough coming up against a team who have had a couple of losses and who have been in the news a fair bit," he said.
"They could be getting a bit of motivation about all the press they are getting.
"Normally they can turn it around and sometimes it can motivate a team. We will be very wary of that.
"The games they have won they have looked unreal. The games they have lost, they would agree, they could have played a bit better. We will be expecting a strong Manly outfit on Sunday."
Asked were Manly a shambles, Cordner said: "Not really. They are showing some really good signs. Their key players are playing some really good footy.
"I think it's that time of the year where it's still early stages and we are coming into the middle part of the year. I think they are a quality team and they have a great coach."
Manly will again rely heavily on the Trbojevic brothers - Tom and Jake - along with skipper Daly Cherry-Evans.
Cordner and Jake played in the NSW side last year.
"That is why Jake is their leader - he is a great competitor. I think you can see that throughout every game he has played this year," Cordner said.
"That's the sort of bloke that he is and that's why his teammates love playing with him. He plays the full 80 minutes and tries rally hard, you can see he plays with his heart on his sleeve.
"That's why everyone loves 'Jakey'."
The Roosters are enjoying a 10-day break between their Anzac Day match and Sunday's game.
"We still have a lot of improvement in us and we need to find that consistency," Cordner said.
"We've had a few days off to get away, really freshen up and attack this middle part of the year."
Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves said he took criticism of the Roosters pack "pretty personally."
"We've just got to continue to work hard, harder, to perform better," he said.