Knights halfback Jackson Hastings says he’ll rule himself out of Saturday’s semi-final against the Warriors if his ankle doesn’t heal in time after he aggravated an injury in the epic 30-28 win over the Raiders.
Hastings didn’t return after half-time following an incident just before the break that left him writhing in pain in his first game back from a syndesmosis injury.
It’s yet another setback for the 27-year-old who broke his ankle last year as a result of a Patrick Carrigan hip-drop tackle, while he was the victim of a similar incident last month when Jacob Preston trapped his foot.
Hastings wasn’t in a moon boot after the match but did have a big bag of ice on his right foot, with the veteran playmaker in huge doubt for the trip across the ditch.
“I’ve been pretty proud to get on the field every single week and contribute so I’m going to try to get back out there again this week,” he said, confident Adam Clune can get the job done if he’s called into the side.
“If I can’t, then I won’t. I’m not the guy who puts myself in front of the team, so if I can’t run and do what I need to do then I won’t play.
“I’ll let people know more at the end of the year. There’s a bit going on there so I don’t really want to give too much away yet.
“It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with it ever since the surgery. The hip drop didn’t help four weeks ago, and then I got a nice whack on it again today.
“I’ve got a fair bit going on and it’s been really frustrating.”
Hastings missed the incredible second half that saw the Knights storm back from 10 points down, only for the Raiders to race in two late tries to send the game into extra-time where Kalyn Ponga kicked a penalty goal to seal the win.
The injury remains somewhat of a mystery with Trey Mooney rushing out to pressure the halfback whose leg ricocheted off the bench forward and onto his other foot.
“Everyone keeps saying that, but I don’t remember kicking myself,” Hastings said.
“There was some inside pressure and he got me shin on shin and got me right in the sweet spot. He got me flush in the soft part of my leg, and I think I kicked myself after that.
“My leg kind of shut down after that so maybe he hit the plate or the screws in my leg, or maybe he got me on my nerve. It definitely wasn’t foul play.”
The injury has the potential to end his season, with more surgery an option as he tries to get right for 2024.
And while that stings, he isn’t feeling sorry for himself given Storm star Ryan Papenhuyzen faces another lengthy stint on the sidelines after he fractured his ankle on Friday after a painstaking comeback from a gruesome knee injury.
“It’s frustration, it’s sadness, it’s anger, it’s pain, it’s all the emotions mixed into one. There’s not much you can do about it,” he said.
“But there are people like Ryan Papenhuyzen, and that injury puts life into perspective.
“I feel so sorry for him and it brought a tear to my eye watching him go through that after he worked so hard to get back.
“It was really inspirational for someone like me who had to come back from a decent injury as well.
“Fingers crossed he can get back on the field as soon as possible because the game needs him and the game loves him.
“I reached out to him but he’s got about 400,000 followers.
“I sent him a message on Instagram because I had the same injury last year so I reached out to see if he needed a hand with the rehab.
“That’s the best thing about rugby league. Everyone looks after each other. We battle on the field, but when it comes down to it, we all care about each other and everyone’s wellbeing.
“If he doesn’t get back to me then I understand because he’s one of the most popular guys in the game.”
Originally published as ‘That injury puts life into perspective’: Hastings in doubt for Warriors game after aggravating his ankle