“It’s why we play this game” – Jackson Hastings relishing playing in front of fans again

Wigan half-back Jackson Hastings is looking forward to playing in front of fans again when they visit neighbours Leigh tonight.

Along with the rest of British sport, Super League was halted in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and, since resuming five months later, all matches have been played behind closed doors.

With restrictions eased from today as part of Government plans to gradually bring the country out of lockdown, all but one of the six round-six fixtures have been pushed back from the weekend to enable clubs to play in front of limited crowds.

Hastings, one of the game’s entertainers, is excited by the opportunity to play in front of an audience at the Leigh Sports Village, even though it will be made up of around 2,000 partisan home fans.

“It’s going to be a bit weird actually because we’re used to no-one being able to boo you or chant your name or sing,” said the 25-year-old who was named Man of Steel at the end of his first season in Super League in 2019.

“That’s the one thing that I love about this country and the sport inside of it, the fans and how passionate they are and how they get involved in the game.

“In Australia it’s a completely different atmosphere so for me to come over from that side of the world and play in front of these sort of fans is great.

“I can’t wait to have them back singing, either for or against us.

“It’s what we’ve all waited for, it’s why we play this game, to make our fans proud of whatever team we’re from.”

Wigan will make the short trip to the Leigh Sports Village to face neighbours Leigh tonight

Centurions coach John Duffy says a derby with Wigan is the perfect way to mark the return of fans and he is hoping they can help cheer his side to a first win of the season.

“Speak to any Leigh fan, this is the one they want to be at,” said Duffy. “It’s great for us to have them as the first game.

“It’ll be fantastic for the new players who haven’t seen the fans yet. They’ll be the extra man, as they always are, and they’re being spread around the stadium so they can give it to the Wigan players from every angle for us!”

The new regulations allow for crowds at small outdoor venues of up to 4,000 or 50% of capacity while up to 10,000 fans or 25% of capacity are being permitted at larger outdoor venues.

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