Rugby League

Braith Anasta backs young Sydney Roosters halves amid one off return

Auckland: Braith Anasta insists his Auckland Nines return is nothing more than a cameo despite the Roosters likely starting the season with one of the most inexperienced halves pairings of all time.

Anasta has little doubt that Jackson Hastings is ready to become a dominant half with the 20-year-old set to take control of the Roosters in the likely absence of Mitchell Pearce. As Pearce continues his treatment in a rehabilitation clinic, the Roosters are expected to throw the uncapped Jayden Nikorima to partner 19-gamer Hastings.

Despite the lack of experience at the Roosters, Anasta said he had given no thought to making a permanent comeback ahead of captaining the Roosters in the Auckland Nines on Saturday.

"My days are over and I'm very happy with where I'm at," Anasta said. "I've got a great job. I don't even know how I'll go, I might be useless.

"This week I've been a bit nervous and thinking am I really doing this? Robbo [Roosters coach Trent Robinson] giving me the captaincy has switched me on a bit and has taken me to a place I haven't been to for a few years."

While Hastings and Nikorima have been spared from playing this weekend, Anasta said he had little doubt the pair would be ready to take on the Rabbitohs in round one. Despite Pearce and Hastings being the obvious halves pairing to start this season Anasta said Nikorima had been putting pressure on to replace James Maloney in the No.6 jersey.

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"Jayden has had a really big off-season," Anasta said. "I know Robbo has really big raps on him and is excited about how he has performed. They weren't going to be surprised if Jayden pushed for first grade anyway now he will have that chance.

"[Hastings] is a really confident kid. Every game he played last year he got better.

"He is going to be the experienced half heading into 2016. Having experience, confidence and he has those little attributes where he can control the game really well.

"They will do a good job together. They really will. I'm looking forward to watching them play."

Anasta will lead a relatively inexperienced Nines squad. He has the unique opportunity of having coached the likes of Latrell Mitchell, Connor Watson and Joseph Manu in his role as assistant under-20s coach last year before playing alongside them.

"The Roosters have such a young squad," Anasta said. "Even the leaders in the club are young guys. Me coming over here [to Auckland] there are a lot of good young kids who have big opportunities ahead of them

"Just coming in and being a mentor and giving them some advice and talking to them about things like playing in front of crowds. A lot of the guys hadn't signed an autograph before [this week]. For me and Robbo it was about being there for those young guys and putting on the Roosters jersey again which is a huge honour."

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