Four potential long-term destinations for Zak Hardaker

Zak Hardaker is now a Leeds Rhinos player – that is a fact.

But, with only a short-term deal signed until the end of the 2022 Super League season, there are still question marks about where his long-term future lies.

Will Leeds keep hold of him beyond that? Will he return to Castleford Tigers? Will he return to boyhood club Featherstone Rovers? Here are four of the potential long-term destinations for Hardaker.

Leeds Rhinos

Of course, it seems more than likely if Hardaker performs well and keeps his head down off the field then his deal will likely be extended at Headingley. With a number of high-profile stars coming off contract at Leeds such as Blake Austin and Rhyse Martin, the salary cap space will be there to nail the 30-year-old down to a good deal. New Rhinos boss Rohan Smith has already spoken highly of Hardaker and revealed that he was involved in conversations to bring him to the club before he landed in Australia, so he already has the support of his new boss.

Featherstone Rovers

It would be a fairytale ending to Hardaker’s long and illustrious career wouldn’t it? Having started out his time in rugby league at the Championship club, Featherstone will always be in the Pontefract-born Hardaker’s heart. If Rovers get promoted at the end of 2022, it would seem even more likely that the 30-year-old would link up with former Leeds boss Brian McDermott once more in a bid to help Rovers stay in the top flight, especially when McDermott confirmed he was interested in signing Hardaker before he went to Leeds.

Castleford Tigers

They may not have had salary cap space when Hardaker’s exit from Wigan Warriors was confirmed in April, but Castleford could have the space going into the 2023 season. With the likes of Cheyse Blair, Sosaia Feki, Jake Trueman and Danny Richardson coming off contract, that would free up a huge amount of money that would easily be able to lure Hardaker to the Jungle once more. However, it remains to be seen whether the Tigers would go for the 30-year-old again following the acrimonious way in which he exited the first time.

Wakefield Trinity

Perhaps the biggest choice out of left field would be Wakefield Trinity. It’s been well known that they do not spend up to the salary cap so money would be the biggest issue here. However, there are a few big earners who are out of contract at Belle Vue, not least Jacob Miller and Bill Tupou, so a deal could be done. With Willie Poching being a firm believer in setting the right culture, though, it remains to be seen whether Trinity would go after a deal such as this.

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