NRL Pre-Season - Knights v Eels
GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 17: Jackson Hastings of the Knights passes during the NRL Trial Match between the Newcastle Knights and the Parramatta Eels at Central Coast Stadium on February 17, 2023 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Luckily for Jackson Hastings, former Wigan team-mate John Bateman won't be standing opposite him at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday afternoon.

The English import is reportedly a big reason behind Jackson Hastings' immediate release from the Wests Tigers during the off-season, the Newcastle Knights trading aggressive behemoth David Klemmer for the halfback.

The pair played for the Wigan Warriors in 2021 and apparently didn't see eye to eye on everything, playing a singular season together before Hastings returned to Australia via Concord.

According to Fox Sports, Bateman made it clear to Tim Sheens and the club's assistant coaches that he didn't want to play alongside Hastings, which NRL360 panelist Paul Crawley confirmed.

“The funny thing was as soon as we got wind that Bateman was going there, I got told that he wouldn't play with Jackson Hastings,” Crawley said on NRL 360.

“I inquired about that story and I got told that Hastings didn't have a problem with Bateman, but I am pretty sure the other way around was an issue.

“And so following that about a week later, Jackson ends up in Newcastle and there you go. But there's no issues....”

Fellow journalist David Riccio believes the halfback's public backing of then-coach, Michael Maguire, played a key role in his axing.

“I think Jackson's quite vocal support of Michael Maguire as well through that turbulent period, also played a role in, I wouldn't say his departure, but his perception within the club,” Riccio said on the program.

“Certainly that's eventually led to his exit.”

We've seen a number of spiteful 'revenge matches' in recent years, pitting stars against the team that let them slip, however Hastings is adamant there's no significance to the clash.

“For me it is just another game, it is a club I played for… a club I thought I was going to be at for a long period of time,” Hastings said at training on Tuesday.

NRL Rd 19 - Cowboys v Wests Tigers
TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 24: Jackson Hastings of the Tigers looks dejected after losing the round 19 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Wests Tigers at Qld Country Bank Stadium, on July 24, 2022, in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

“Ultimately I ended up at the Knights which I am very grateful for too… I don't play to prove anything to anyone besides myself and my teammates.

“It doesn't matter, I'm not there… I don't have anything to prove to anyone.”

The former Rooster, Sea Eagle and Tiger will face his former club at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday afternoon, and while he won't have Bateman out there to target, facing 17 Wests' jerseys should be all the motivation Jackson needs.