Jackson Hastings previews Great Britain’s first test of their four-match Tour of New Zealand and Papa New Guinea.
Great Britain Lions face a Tongan Invitational XIII in Hamilton, New Zealand on Saturday.
Australian Hastings qualifiers for Great Britain squad through an English grandparent and is set to start at seven at the weekend.
Wigan Warriors 2020 recruit Jackson Hastings hopes to do the Great Britain Lions jersey proud when he wears it for the first time on Saturday (8am K.O.).
The half-back has been named at seven for Wayne Bennett’s side as they take on a Tongan Invitational XIII in Hamilton, New Zealand - Great Britain’s first appearance on the international Rugby League state since 2007.
Born in Australia, Hastings qualifies for the squad through an English grandparent and is set to start alongside future Wigan teammates Zak Hardaker and Oliver Gildart.
The 2019 Steve Prescott Man of Steel, who guided Salford Red Devils to their first ever Super League Grand Final earlier this month, said: “I’m obviously very excited. This year has been one of those years that I’ve sort of been hoping for, for a long time.
Hastings, who qualifies through an English grandparent, said: "I understand what people think and who they want to represent this shirt (but) I'm very proud and privileged to be here.
"I don't make the quota rules, I qualify and I put my hand up, and I'm truly honoured to be a part of this group of players.
"I just want to represent myself and my family to the best of my ability, and represent the Lions on tour, with dignity.
"Hopefully I'll have a long rep career."
St Helens' Lachlan Coote is also in the team while a third Aussie, Blake Austin, is in the touring party.
Hastings is set for a duel with his Salford halfback partner Tui Lolohea in the Lions' first match for 12 years.
“ I didn’t give myself the chance in the past few years to play the rugby I wanted to play, but in the past 15 months with Salford I just wanted to knuckle down and play good rugby.
“If this came off the back of it or if not, I’ll just keep playing good rugby and hopefully represent the badge with pride.
“When we got on the plane yesterday and travelled over to New Zealand and had the Great Britain Lions badge on, there wasn’t people with an England shirt flying around, so it sunk in that we are here for the Lions.”
Hastings revealed his eagerness to learn under Head Coach Bennet, who has a vast amount of experience at the top level, including both in the NRL and on international stage.
“He’s one of the best coaches to ever coach in this game,” he said. “Everyone that has had him as a coach can’t speak highly enough of him, and the few interactions I’ve had with him have been really good. I’ll pick his brain and listen intently and try and get a lot out of it.”
The 23-year-old shared his delight of working under Salford Head Coach Ian Watson, as he is one of the Assistant Coaches on the Great Britain coaching team.
“He deserves it. The way he coached this year (at Salford) was unbelievable, the team he had and the lack of recourses he had to put the team together and the style of play is a credit to him.
“I’m really happy for him that he’s starting to get those rewards. He puts a lot of time and effort into it. I was stoked to have him in camp - it’s good to have those familiar faces especially in the first couple of days when it can be awkward meeting new people.
“I’ve got to know everyone in the camp, as I haven’t met a lot of the boys personally before.”
Saturday’s game at the Waikato Stadium will be the start of a four-match tour which continues with two Tests against New Zealand and one against Papua New Guinea.
Fans can catch coverage of the first tour fixture on BBC Two from 7:30am-10:30am and highlights on BBC One from 1:15pm (repeated on BBC Red Button from 5:30pm).
Great Britain 21-man squad:
Lachlan Coote (Windsor Wolves, St Helens)
Jermaine McGillvary (Deighton Juniors, Huddersfield Giants)
Zak Hardaker (Featherstone Lions, Wigan Warriors)
Oliver Gildart (Wigan St Patricks, Wigan Warriors)
Ryan Hall (Oulton Raiders, Sydney Roosters)
Gareth Widdop (Kings Cross, St George Illawarra Dragons)
Jackson Hastings (Western Suburbs Red Devils, Salford Red Devils)
Chris Hill (New Springs Lions, Warrington Wolves)
Josh Hodgson (East Hull, Canberra Raiders)
Luke Thompson (Bold Miners, St Helens)
John Bateman (Bradford Dudley Hill, Canberra Raiders)
Elliott Whitehead (West Bowling, Canberra Raiders)
James Graham (c) (Thatto Heath, St George Illawarra Dragons)
Josh Jones (Blackbrook, Salford Red Devils)
Tom Burgess (Dewsbury Moor, South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Jonny Lomax (Orrell St James, St Helens)
Alex Walmsley (Dewsbury Celtic, St Helens)
Jake Connor (Siddal, Hull FC)
Jack Hughes (Golborne Parkside, Warrington Wolves)
George Williams (Wigan St Patricks, Wigan Warriors)
Daryl Clark (Fryston Warriors, Warrington Wolves)
Tonga Invitational XIII:
Sio Siua Taukeiaho (c)
Jason Taumalolo (c) Interchange (from):
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