Leeds Rhinos’ Zak Hardaker pictured in a Wigan Warriors shirt on Sky Sports

Zak Hardaker completed his move to the Leeds Rhinos back in April of this year after being released by the Wigan Warriors at the start of that month.

It was a move that brought with it immense publicity for Hardaker, the two clubs involved and the sport in general.

He left the Rhinos in 2016 to join NRL side Penrith Panthers after being named as the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel in 2015. Hardaker also made 155 appearances for Leeds in his first stint with the club, scoring 67 tries.

However, with how big a move to Headingley it was second time around, you would think that the sport’s main broadcaster – Sky Sports – would have been able to get the 30-year-old pictured in a Leeds shirt, not a Wigan one.

Yet, that’s what fans were greeted with when looking for the preview of Leeds’ clash with Wigan this Thursday night.

On his re-signing, Hardaker said: “It is a strange feeling at the moment, I suppose a bit like going back to your old school.

“I have fond memories from my time and Leeds and the opportunity to come back this year is really special. I have spoken to Rohan Smith so we can get a feel for each other, he is arriving on the same week and it was good to understand what he is looking for.

“He explained his vision for what this year looks like for Leeds as a team and explained the journey he had been on in his coaching career. I am sure we are both really eager to get over and do our best for the club.

“The way I left Wigan wasn’t the way I wanted to leave the club but I would like to thank everyone there for the opportunity to play for Wigan. This started last year when I wanted to get a chance to come back to Yorkshire with my family. I have got that opportunity thankfully with Leeds and I can’t wait to play in those Friday night games in front of a packed South Stand again.

“It is definitely a case of ‘you don’t realise what you’ve got until it’s gone’ and I think I let my time at the Rhinos the first time pass me by. Even as an away player it is special to play at Headingley, and I am really keen to get going as soon as possible now. In the short term I need to get to know the boys, play in as many games as I can and show what I can do for the Rhinos.”

It remains to be seen if Hardaker will play against his former side, however, after missing the Rhinos’ loss against Toulouse Olympique with a thigh problem sustained in the win over Castleford Tigers at the Magic Weekend.

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