It’s fair to say that Zak Hardaker has settled in seamlessly at the Leeds Rhinos since his move to Headingley earlier in the season.
After leaving the Wigan Warriors, there were question marks over where Hardaker would head next with a number of Super League and Championship clubs chasing him.
He chose his first Super League side – Leeds – and the rest, as they say, is history.
Head coach Rohan Smith – who too was the new kid on the block midway through the year – is extremely happy about where Hardaker currently is and reveals what was said in those opening conversations when the two were heading for the West Yorkshire club.
“Zak and I had a lengthy conversation on the phone. The club were down the path of recruiting him back prior to my appointment. I felt like he was a good guy who wanted to play for the Rhinos again,” Smith said.
“Since I’ve been at the club, Zak has been great. He is a good trainer and good person and a good person amongst the squad.
“Zak has done well, I hadn’t watched a lot of his career but all I know at the moment is he is very calm temperament. He is one of the lads, there is a calm attitude across the group and that suits him very well.”
Of course, the impact of both Smith and Hardaker has been great – so much so that the Rhinos now face the Wigan Warriors on Friday night in what promises to be an absolute cracker of a play-off semi-final.
And, Smith is certainly expecting another level following the win over the Catalans Dragons last week.
“I am anticipating another level or two up. We are playing against a team that are well refreshed. They have had another week off with a few tweaks and twists to their attack.”