Hardaker eyeing England recall

By Christopher Devine 12 November 2016 38
Hardaker eyeing England recall

An England recall represents one of Zak Hardaker's top priorities ahead of next year's Rugby League World Cup.

Super League's Man of Steel in 2015, full-back Hardaker was left out of Wayne Bennett's squad for the Four Nations after a challenging season at domestic level.

The 25-year-old was part of a Leeds Rhinos side that made a miserable start to the campaign, before he was placed on the transfer list at his own request and joined NRL side Penrith Panthers in a short-term swap deal that saw James Segeyaro move to Headingley.

Having been chiefly used as a replacement by the Panthers, Hardaker joined Castleford Tigers this week on a season-long loan and hopes a return to Super League will enable him to rediscover his best form.

Asked about the prospect of gaining international honours again, he told Omnisport: "That's one of my number-one goals, to get back into the England fold next year. It's a year away so it's not a quick fix, it's a long-term goal.

"My short-term goals are going to be trying to play well each week for Cas and try and win as much as we can. I'll see what year I have for Castleford first and then hopefully that's good enough to get picked off the back of that.

"England is there but it's not something I'm going to look at each day, it's just going to be something that, probably towards the back-end of the season, I try to put my eye on and strive towards."

After losing narrowly to New Zealand in their opening match and failing to impress in a subsequent victory over Scotland, England need at least a draw against Australia on Sunday to reach the Four Nations final.

"I went to Huddersfield to watch the game against New Zealand, they just came up short, it was a bit frustrating," added Hardaker.

"I watched the game last week on telly. It's frustrating to watch but I can watch it... but I do shout at the telly some of the time and I'm pretty sure a lot of people do that at home.

"It's a lot different to when you're sat on the sofa to when you've got the jersey on and the crowd's screaming at you. They've come up short in a couple of areas but I'm sure they can change that this week and hopefully beat the Aussies, which would be fantastic."

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Christopher Devine