Adam O'Brien has declared star recruit Jackson Hastings as the 'perfect' halfback, as the former Wests Tigers half readies himself to run out at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.

Hastings rapidly became a fan favourite in Concord last season, namely after his clutch match-winning field goal on Easter Monday, however, was cut at the season's end in favour of Luke Brooks.

Returning head coach Tim Sheens preferred the halfback in a lock role, where he played a scattered number of games last season before Newcastle offered David Klemmer in return for Hastings.

Considered the hard-working, focused, victory-chasing Ying to Kalyn Ponga's laidback, nonchalant Yang, Adam O'Brien is super impressed with the 27-year-old's immediate impact in the Hunter.

"I think he's a perfect No.7," O'Brien told AAP.

"He's got enough cheek, enough directness, understands the game.

"That's what you want in your sevens and that's what he's given us."

Sunday's match, despite being just Round 2, is a must-win for both sides, and there's certainly enough motivation on either side of the fence to get the victory.

The Wests Tigers play just three games at Leichhardt Oval in 2023 and have already lost their first match there, they certainly won't want to end the year with a losing record at their spiritual ground.

Meanwhile, Hastings will be out to prove that not only he is a halfback, but that he's a better option at halfback than opposing seven Luke Brooks.

While not intentional, the Newcastle recruit has been on a revenge tour since returning to the NRL from a long stint in England, silencing his doubters as he performs with a level-head on his shoulders.

O'Brien insists there's no hard feelings towards Klemmer, who the Knights at one point stood down for a week after the prop sprayed trainer Hayden Knowles on-field.

"We thank David for everything that he's done," O'Brien said.

"Not only in his own performances, what he was able to do for other players here. He really paved the way for those guys and his professionalism has rubbed off on a lot of them.

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)

"As a business decision that the club had to make, we were in need of a half. I guess the Tigers were in need of a front-rower. It was not a personal thing, it was a business decision."

The two clubs will meet at 4:05 pm AEDT Sunday, as Hastings tries to lead Newcastle to their maiden victory of the 2023 NRL season.