17 October 1991 |
|Height||191 cm (6 ft 3 in)|
|Weight||93 kg (14 st 9 lb)|
|As of 31 March 2017
Zak Hardaker (born 17 October 1991) is an English professional rugby league footballer who currently plays on loan from Leeds Rhinos for Castleford Tigers in the Super League. Hardaker previously played for the Featherstone Rovers in the Championship, Leeds Rhinos in the Super League and the Penrith Panthers in the National Rugby League. His preferred position is fullback, but he can also play at centre and on the wing. An England international representative, Hardaker has won two Challenge Cups and three Super League championships with Leeds. Individually he has been named to the Super League Dream Team on two occasions, and was the 2015 Man of Steel.
Hardaker joined Featherstone Rovers from local amateur side Featherstone Lions after leaving school at Carleton High School in Pontefract. He previously played for his home town club Knottingley Rockware before signing pro terms with Featherstone Rovers.
He scored a hat-trick of tries on his 2010 début for Featherstone Rovers against Hunslet, and went on to score 22 tries in 14 games in all competitions in his début season. This included two tries in Rovers' extra-time 23–22 Co-operative Grand Final defeat by Halifax.
At the end of the season he was named joint Co-operative Championship Young Player of the Year, along with Gareth Moore of Batley Bulldogs.
Hardaker signed for Leeds Rhinos in October 2010 for a transfer fee of around £60,000 and was awarded the number 27 jersey. He trained with the Rhinos senior squad during pre-season & made two appearances in pre-season friendlies, before returning to Rovers on a dual contract for the 2011 season. He made 5 further appearances for Featherstone, scoring 5 tries.
In March 2011, due to injuries to Leeds wingers Ben Jones-Bishop & Lee Smith, Hardaker was called back to the club & made his Super League début against St. Helens at Headingley. Hardaker scored a try in Leeds' 30–16 loss. Hardaker then featured sporadically for Leeds throughout the season; arguably his best match was in the play-off game against Huddersfield Giants, in which he scored a hat-trick and picked up the man of the match award in a 34–28 victory. He also scored the final try in the 2011 Super League Grand Final as Leeds defeated St. Helens 32–16 at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Hardaker was handed the number 4 jersey for the 2012 season, taking over from long time servant Keith Senior. However, following injury to Brent Webb, he moved to fullback for the latter half of the season and showed excellent form as Leeds successfully defended their Super League title. Hardaker was awarded the 2012 Super League Young Player of the Year for his form.
Hardaker was part of the Rhinos squad that won the 2014 Challenge Cup, and he earned his first selection in the Super League Dream Team at the end of the season. His form also saw him earn a recall to the England squad for the 2014 Four Nations, however he did not feature in the tournament.
Hardaker's form continued in 2015 and he was part of the Rhinos squad that won the 2015 Challenge Cup. At the end of the season he was named Man of Steel, the first Leeds player to win the award since Iestyn Harris in 1998.
In June 2016, Hardaker requested a transfer from Leeds following the Rhinos' poor form which saw them sitting bottom of the league table.
Penrith Panthers (Loan)
He debuted for the Panthers in Round 17 against the West Tigers in the Panthers 26-34 loss. Three weeks later, he scored his first career NRL try in Round 19 in the Panthers 31-12 win over the Brisbane Broncos. Zak played with Penrith all the way to the Semi Finals where the Panthers 2016 NRL season ended. He finished off his maiden year in the NRL playing in 11 games for the Penrith Panthers (including 2 finals games), scoring 1 try and assisting 3 others.
Castleford Tigers (Loan)
On 8 November 2016, it was announced that he had signed a one-year loan deal to play for Castleford Tigers, with a deal in place for Castleford to sign him for an "already agreed fee" should all parties agree to it at the end of his loan agreement. At the end of the Warrington Wolves v Castleford Tigers match on the 24th February 2017, Zak donated his man of the match cheque to the Prince of Wales Hospice in Pontefract.
Hardaker was named in England's squad for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, however he was later forced to withdraw from the squad for personal reasons mid-tournament.
In 2015, Zak made his first appearance for England since the 2012 Autumn International Series. He appeared for England in a test match against France where the English went on to destroy the away team. He was also selected for the test series against New Zealand which started a week later.
- Super League (3): 2011, 2012, 2015
- World Club Challenge (1): 2012
- League Leader's Shield (1): 2015
- Challenge Cup (2): 2014, 2015
- Baskerville Shield (1): 2015
Hardaker was handed a £2,500 fine for an unspecified breach of team discipline while with England during the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. He was stood down from the England squad as a result of the incident and received a formal caution from his club.
Hardaker was forced to issue a public apology in 2014 after being charged for a homophobic insult directed towards Michael Monaghan during a match. He later received a 5 match ban and a £300 fine for the incident.
In March 2015, Hardaker and Leeds teammate Elliot Minchella were detained and questioned by police over the alleged assault of a 22-year-old student, causing Hardaker to miss his side's 18–6 defeat to Warrington. Hardaker did not face criminal charges, but admitted to the assault and agreed to pay £200 compensation and write a letter of apology to the victim. He was also once again subject to internal disciplinary action by his club.
- "Zak Hardaker Leeds Rhinos". www.superleague.co.uk. Rugby Football League. 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
- "Zak Hardaker Player Stats". Retrieved 21 June 2013.
- "Leeds sign hottest prospect Zak Hardaker from Featherstone". The Guardian. 15 October 2010. Archived from the original on 10 February 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
- "Zak Hardaker hat-trick helps Leeds hold off Huddersfield's late charge". The Guardian. 23 September 2011. Archived from the original on 10 February 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
- "Leeds suffer setback as Zak Hardaker is ruled out of World Club Challenge against Melbourne Storm". The Telegraph. 18 February 2013. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
- Neil Barraclough (15 February 2013). "Leeds 42 Salford 14: Hardaker a major doubt for World Club Challenge after injury". Daily Mail. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
- "RLWC2013: Hardaker bides time in pursuit of honours". Yorkshire Evening Post. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
- James Riach (21 October 2013). "'Embarrassed' England can still sparkle, says Australia coach Tim Sheens". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
- Zak Hardaker makes Leeds history by landing the Man of Steel title
- Zak Hardaker: Leeds Rhinos put Man of Steel on transfer list
- Leeds Rhinos: Zak Hardaker joins Penrith in swap deal for James Segeyaro
- "England demolish France 84-4 in record win". Skysports.com. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
- Ian Laybourn (5 June 2014). "Leeds full-back Zak Hardaker says sorry for homophobic slur at Warrington captain Michael Monaghan". Mail Online. Daily Mail. Archived from the original on 25 July 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
- Ian Laybourn (11 June 2014). "Zak Hardaker vows to change after five-game ban for homophobic abuse during Leeds' defeat by Warrington". Mail Online. Daily Mail. Archived from the original on 25 July 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
- EXCLUSIVE: Leeds Rhinos players admit assault in student flats