In 2013 he signed for the Sydney Roosters, following in the footsteps of his father Kevin who spent 12 years at the club, after rejecting an offer from the Dragons.
However, Hastings’ time at Bondi Junction ended on a sour note after he fell out with senior players and was released from the final year of his contract to join Manly.
But his spell at the Sea Eagles ended when a drunken brawl with Daly Cherry-Evans led to him being ostracised by teammates.
After being dumped to reserve grade by Trent Barrett he came to the conclusion that he needed to get away from Sydney to fulfil his potential.
He was subsequently shopped around to Super League teams by his manager Sam Ayoub with only relegation-haunted Salford making a serious attempt to sign him – but it’s a switch that has worked wonders for both club and player.
Outside of the Sydney fishbowl Hastings could focus fully on his game and prove to locals his troublemaking reputation was unfair.
He quickly won the hearts of supporters with some stellar performances and an approachable nature which, in addition to his work with the local community in Manchester, have earned him enormous praise.
“Rugby league has taught me a lot of very valuable lessons,” Hastings said.
“What you can and what can’t do and the sort of people in the game you have to be careful of.
“That is no disrespect to anyone I have come across, but I have learnt some very valuable lessons along the way and become a better version of myself.
“I don’t care what people have thought about me in the past, that is their opinion.
“I have had that picture painted of me since I was a kid so I can’t worry about that.
“All I can focus on is the picture painted of me right now and that’s a good one.”
Hastings was presented with the Man of Steel Award in front of his family on Monday in a moment he said he’d treasure for the rest of his career.
But he admitted it would be usurped by success on Saturday with a team rated a 150-1 shot at the start of the season.
“To win an individual award like that with the names that have passed before me is very humbling,” he said.
“I don’t think I’ve done anything too special. I just turned up with the right attitude and the willingness to work hard. I pride myself with being the hardest worker in the room.
“Winning on Saturday with these lads would be incredible, we just have to believe.”