The jewel in St George Illawarra’s junior system, Jackson Hastings, will follow in his famous father’s footsteps after inking a three-year deal to join the Sydney Roosters.
The subject of a fierce tug-o-war between the Dragons and Roosters, the Australian Schoolboy has opted to serve his apprenticeship under Blues halfback Mitchell Pearce.
The 17-year-old, the son of former Easts great Kevin ‘‘Horrie’’ Hastings, has starred for the Dragons’ Holden Cup side and was pursued by as many as four NRL clubs.
“This is a real coup for the Roosters – we are proud to have the next generation of Hastings joining our club,” said Roosters recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan.
‘‘Jackson is a wonderfully talented young man who can play in the halves, at hooker or fullback.
‘‘As we know, he hails from a proud rugby league legacy, but in saying that, Jackson is his own young man and we look forward to watching him develop on and off the footy field in the coming years.”
Dragons coach Steve Price earlier this month told the Mercury the Dragons had made a ‘‘good offer’’ to Hastings, a player he considered capable of making his NRL debut at just 18.
‘‘I definitely feel he will be ready for first grade within 18 months,’’ Price said.
But the romance of linking with the Tricolours swayed him to turn his back on the Dragons, who are still to settle on a long-term No.7.
Meanwhile, NRL strugglers Parramatta and St George Illawarra have been spared the embarrassment of playing in a near-empty ANZ Stadium after the Eels reverted Monday night’s clash to their spiritual home.
The competition’s bottom two teams were due to clash at the 83,500-capacity stadium at Homebush, but will do battle just down the road at Parramatta Stadium.
Both sides have endured torrid years on the park and have long been out of finals contention, making the prospect of a healthy crowd flocking to ANZ Stadium highly unlikely.
‘‘We’ve been working on the logistics of this move for a number of weeks now, and we’re very grateful for the help ANZ Stadium has given us in making the switch relatively straightforward,’’ said interim Parramatta chief executive officer Matt Phelan.
The Eels, already confirmed as this season’s wooden spooners, were walloped 64-4 by Melbourne last weekend while the Dragons will be desperate to keep the joint venture’s longest losing streak at five.