Zak Hardaker has become one of Leeds Rhinos’ most consistent players in 2022.
After joining mid-season from the Wigan Warriors, it’s fair to say that the 30-year-old has settled in seamlessly at the club where he made his name.
However, avid viewers will have noticed in recent weeks that Hardaker has had thick black strapping over his leg which Smith said is customary for this time of the year with the knocks that people can get.
“Like everyone at this time of year, Zak is carrying a few niggles and it’s black strapping over his leg,” Smith said.
Having only signed a short-term deal until the end of the season, Smith was keen to stress that keeping Hardaker at the club is an ‘ongoing process’, but that it looks likely that Hardaker will stay at Leeds for 2023.
“I’ve spoken to Zak’s manager and that’s an ongoing process,” Smith simply said.
The Leeds boss was also busy addressing a number of other concerns during his pre-match press conference, including Harry Newman, Tom Holroyd, Bodene Thompson and Cameron Smith’s injuries.
Meanwhile, two players have had successful operations in recent weeks. Youngster Max Simpson had surgery to clear up the ankle injury that forced him off at Toulouse last month and his rehabilitation is progressing well. James Donaldson had a successful clear out of his knee last week is also progressing well with his rehabilitation as he works towards a return to play.
James Bentley, Kruise Leeming and Tom Briscoe are progressing well and will return to full training with the squad in the near future.
But, Bodene Thompson and Tom Holroyd will likely miss the rest of the regular season.