Zak Hardaker seems to be enjoying a new lease of life at Leeds Rhinos following his exit from Wigan Warriors in April.
The fullback/centre has played five games for the West Yorkshire club since joining, with his sixth likely to come against former Super League side Castleford Tigers at the Magic Weekend this upcoming weekend.
Head coach Rohan Smith had previously been coy about Hardaker’s future beyond 2022.
“It’s a week to week thing for Zak at the moment, but he needs to get some consistency,” Smith previously said.
“He’s only played two games in six to eight weeks, so we will chat when the time is right.”
Hardaker just about shocked everyone when he signed for Leeds Rhinos – six years after his exit from Headingley.
In that time, the fullback or centre has joined Castleford Tigers and Wigan Warriors before reuniting with the club that gave him his Super League shot over a decade ago.
Hardaker quickly established himself as one of the best defensive fullbacks the league has ever seen, whilst his attacking play came more to the fore at Castleford.
At Wigan, however, the 30-year-old was limited by being at centre and wing for most of his time at the DW Stadium as Adrian Lam and then Matty Peet favoured the likes of Bevan French and Jai Field at fullback.
But, there had been speculation – prior to his move to Leeds – about a potential move to Featherstone Rovers, with head coach Brian McDermott confirming there had been interest – and it’s likely that McDermott is ruing not bringing Hardaker in considering the position in which Featherstone find themselves following defeats to Leigh Centurions (in cup and league) and Batley Bulldogs.
Could Hardaker move to the Millennium Stadium once his short-term deal with the Rhinos has completed? At this point in time, it’s more likely that he will stay at Leeds if the club can fit him in the salary cap with provisions for 2023 not including Hardaker before his move mid-season.
That explains the immediate departures of Jack Broadbent and Alex Mellor to Featherstone and Castleford respectively, but Hardaker’s destination for 2023 is still up in the air.