Hardaker ready to fill role on full-time basis

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LEEDS Rhinos’ Zak Hardaker has told coach Brian McDermott he could be his long-term answer to the club’s imminently vacant full-back role.

The ex-Featherstone Rovers youngster, 20, shot to fame last season after filling the void left by Great Britain centre Keith Senior and has continued in the same rich form this time around.

However, with Brent Webb sidelined, Hardaker has switched to full-back in the last three games and delivered some excellent displays.

Webb, the Kiwi who has won four Super League titles with Leeds, is set to leave for Catalan at the end of the season and the club are monitoring Wests Tigers full-back Tim Moltzen, among others, as his replacement.

But Hardaker, likely to line up at No 1 again versus London Broncos this afternoon, told the Yorkshire Post: “If Mac came and asked me if I thought I could do the job for next year, and Leeds had faith in me, then of course I’d put my name forward.

“I’m enjoying it at full-back. There’s not as much defending as at centre which is alright and I get the ball in my hands with a bit more free time.

“That means I get to spot the gaps, which I enjoy, and use my speed.

“I’m still not sure what my favourite position is. Mac asked me if I could fill in for Webby while he was injured and I said of course but at the end of the day I’d play prop.

“I’m not really bothered at the moment as I’m still finding my position but I’ve scored a few tries at centre so I’d be happy to go back there too.”

Hardaker was not pleased with the overall Leeds performance as they defeated Castleford Tigers 40-22 last Sunday.

This despite it being a second successive win for the first time since March.

“It was important we got the victory but we weren’t happy with the second-half performance as we kept giving the ball away and some of the defence wasn’t good either,” he said.

“We need to put that right at London but they are a tough team.

“We took them lightly last year and got two defeats. We won’t do that again and we need those points.”

The Broncos are once more battling to avoid finishing bottom in Super League and that, according to former London coach McDermott, makes them dangerous opponents.

“London will be desperate for a win,” he said. “We cannot overlook where they are in their season.

“They have some big game players and have scored a lot of points this year, even if results have not gone their way.”