A week ago, Leigh stunned the rugby league world when they rebranded as the Leigh Leopards and announced 10 new signings.
The Leopards’ recruits were perhaps headlined by 2022 Grand Finalist Zak Hardaker who swapped Leeds for Leigh.
After putting pen to paper on a two-year deal with the Leopards, Hardaker revealed that he was shocked and disappointed by the offer Leeds had made him which resulted in his departure.
In the eyes of high profile rugby league agent Craig Harrison, who describes himself as a “good friend” of Hardaker’s, this was a little unfair on Leeds.
Harrison was speaking on Inside The Deal on Show Me The Money Rugby League TV’s YouTube Channel.
“Not for me that,” Harrison said on Hardaker’s comments, “Leeds had to wait for the Jack Walker situation to get the cap space, Zak will have been aware of this.
“You’re not shocked, if you want to say you’re shocked when they offer you over the top money so you say to the fans ‘I’m so shocked they’ve offered me 200 grand a year.’ You’re not going to do that because fans are going to say you’re not worth that.
“For me if you’re going to do it publicly, you’ve got make sure you do it both ways.”
He also felt that Leeds need to be given credit for how they rekindled his career after the Wigan departure and he felt like Hardaker himself should have referenced this:
“Leeds were good with Zak. He left Wigan under a cloud and Leeds gave redemption to Zak again. Leeds have got to be given massive thanks for doing that, I’m saying this with respect to them all because Zak is my friend, he’ll always be my friend and have a place in my heart, but speak like a man.
“The reason Zak has got whatever he’s got at Leigh is because of Leeds, because he played out of his skin. So for me, don’t say that. Keep that private. Just say, ‘Leeds were good with, I enjoyed my time there,’ maybe Leeds’ cap space doesn’t allow for you to get 40 or 50 grand and Leigh’s does. Good on Leigh, good on Zak.
“Don’t ever criticise a player for accepting more money, be more honest. But it should be ‘I’ve cashed in’ and not ‘Leeds have offered me sh*t.”
Harrison does believe that Hardaker is exactly the signing Leigh need to be a force in 2023: “He plays with his heart, he plays a brand of rugby that’s sensational when the pressure is on. He’s the perfect player for Leigh, If they’re going for top six, they need Zak Hardaker but keep the coshing in line.
“Great signing for Leigh, great deal for Zak. Leeds fans, you’ve lost Zak and now you’ve got a better chance of giving someone like Max Simpson.”