The Tragedy that unites Roosters rookie halves

The Tragedy that unites Roosters rookie halves Written by TONY ADAMS , March 6, 2016

FRIENDSHIP forged in tragedy lit up a freezing Langtree Park on two weeks ago, giving Roosters fans hope that the NRL’s youngest halves pairing can steer the team through life without suspended No.7 Mitchell Pearce and Sharks recruit James Maloney.

Jackson Hastings, 20, and Jayden Nikorima, 19, steered the Chooks to a 38-12 demolition of St Helens in the World Club Series – and their relationship dates back long before the start of the summer when the prized Broncos signing joined the Tricolours.

Hastings’ mother, Megan Harrod, tells RLW the pair have been thick as thieves since they were 15, but their friendship is tinged with sadness. The duo used to be a trio until promising Cowboys back-rower Regan Grieve took his own life on Australia Day 2015, aged only 18.

Ironically, 12 months to the day later, Hastings and Nikorima quietly clinked a Corona for their mate Regan . . . hours before Mitchell Pearce’s Australia Day indiscretion handed the great mates the Roosters’ playmaking reins.

“They played against each other in the national titles in Perth and immediately hit it off,” Harrod says.

“They lived in different states but always stayed in touch. And Jayden would come and spend his holidays with us, then Jackson would go and spend the next holidays with Jayden’s family in Queensland.

“They’re so happy to finally be team-mates, and roomed together on the World Club Series tour.”

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They also lived together over summer as the Brisbane recruit adjusted to Sydney, but the Australia Day anniversary of Regan’s death was a sad reminder of the grief that binds them together.

“It hit both of the boys hard – they were in a bad way,” Harrod says. “The three were so close . . . it was a tough time.”

Nikorima partnered Hastings in the halves on the 2013 Australian Schoolboys tour of NZ and is now on a three-year deal reportedly worth $250,000 a season.

That’s a hell of a lot for a kid who’s yet to make his NRL debut . . . but 146-game Roosters stalwart and junior academy coach Adrian Lam reckons he’s worth every cent.

“I’ve watched them closely at training and they’ve had a great start to the season,” Lam says.

“You look at half the clubs in the NRL, with all respect, not too many halves are game-breakers. There’s not many halves that are genuine, threatening-the-line halves like the Roosters have. Two young halves with some good control at the moment is great for them.”

Nikorima will play his first NRL game in the mammoth round one clash against arch rivals Souths this afternoon, and Bunnies half Adam Reynolds is wary.

“For the past two years they had Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney and we kind of knew what to expect from them,” says Reynolds, who enjoys a 5-3 winning record over the old enemy. “We don’t know as much about Hastings and Nikorima but they looked very sharp against St Helens. We’ll have to keep an eye on them.”

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