Former Bronco and Wallabies nice and present Knights assistant Berrick Barnes has been very impressed by Newcastle’s newest recruit, halfback Jackson Hastings.
Every fortnight Barnes spends two days with the Knights as a kicking coach specializing in goal-kicking and kicking usually play.
While Hastings has solely been at his new membership for simply over a month his presence has already made an impression on Barnes.
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“You look through the stats last year and Newcastle were just about on bottom with every kicking stat,” Barnes advised the Sydney Morning Herald.
“They will make kicking a priority this year, and I’m just there to help reinforce that with the players and work with a few of them.
“Most of the stuff so far has been general-play kicking. I’ve enjoyed working with Jacko — he challenges you, he challenges the coach, but the good thing about him is he’s willing to drive a team, and confident in his own ability to do that.
“He’s been great for the environment so far. Jacko is an alpha male, he’s a leader in his own right and believes in what he thinks … he’ll be a good fit for Newcastle.”
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Barnes has over 50 Wallabies Tests to his title, a feat Hastings introduced up with the previous Wallaby when the pair first met on the coaching paddock.
“He came up to me and said, ‘hey mate, I’m Berrick Barnes’, and I was like, ‘I know mate, I’ve watched you play about 50 Tests for the Wallabies,” Hastings stated.
“I used to love watching him with his long blond hair and the headgear.
“He’s not teaching us how to hold the ball or kick the ball, it’s when to kick it, how to set yourself up, hand position … it’s about putting ourselves in the best position to get a clean kick away and land it in the right spot.
“He’s a really positive guy.”
Barnes additionally admitted that the possible mixture of Hastings and Kalyn Ponga has him excited, nonetheless he warned that success gained’t happen over night time.
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“With Jacko and ‘KP’ you get a right and a left-footer, and as a kicking coach that’s your dream because you can open up the field and put the back three under pressure,” Barnes stated.
“You want Jacko leading you around the park, and you want KP to jump on an opportunity when he sees something. They’re both lucky to also have the ‘Eighth’ [Andrew Johns] there helping them as well.
“Newcastle fans just need to be patient. Penrith’s Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary have been together since they were 14, and that’s 10 years together.
“Whatever combo Newcastle go with, there will be teething problems, but hopefully not for too long.”