Salford coach Ian Watson believes Jackson Hastings should be in the England squad and thinks he can have as big an impact in Super League as Ben Barba.
Hastings put in a man of the match display to help the Red Devils secure Super League status for 2019 with 44-10 win over Toulouse Olympique at the AJ Bell Stadium on Thursday night.
The 22-year-old was born and raised in Australia but he is eligible to play for England due to through his late grandmother.
“I know he qualifies for England so if I was him, I’d be knocking on Wayne Bennett’s door saying ‘I’m worth a shot’,” Watson said.
“We want to compete and win World Cups and generate that interest – he is a kid who can help do that.
“You can see the difference he makes to our team and I might be putting a lot on his shoulders, but he can kick-start something in Super League in 2019 like Benny Barba has done at St Helens.
“I would put him in (the England squad). The international game is the one that kicks everything off and that is the one that we need to invest in. We need to be playing the likes of Tonga, Fiji, Australia and New Zealand in big games. People will get interested in that, just look at rugby union’s international set-up – that’s the kind of thing we need to aspire to and I think Jackson could help us do that.”
Hastings arrived at Salford ahead of The Qualifiers on a short-term deal after being released by NRL side Manly Sea Eagles.
And Watson hopes the former Australian Schoolboys star will decide to stay at the Red Devils next season.
“I hope that by getting the win tonight that he will decide that this is the place for him,” Watson added.
“The supporters have been outstanding with him since he came. They have taken to him and have given him a lot of support. The amount of love that he has got here – it would be tough for him to go anywhere else.
“He is the new age kind of player because of his relationships with the players and the supporters of the club as well as the media and the kids around here. There was a young lad who came to our training the other week and it was Jackson who had invited him down. Jackson wheeled him all the way onto the training field and wheeled him all the way back to the stadium and they are the kind of things that people don’t see.
“To do them sort of things is that new age sort of player who buys into having a good relationship with the media, players and fans.
“He is an NRL player. He is as good as I have seen come over here in terms of talking half-backs.”