NRL’s Canberra unlikely to mount raid for Leeds Rhinos’ Zak Hardaker

Leeds Rhinos Zak Hardaker. PIcture: Tim Goode/PA.
Leeds Rhinos Zak Hardaker. PIcture: Tim Goode/PA.
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Canberr RAIDERS may be eyeing new talent in Super League but have ruled out a move for Leeds Rhinos full-back Zak Hardaker.

Delighted with the impact made by ex-Hull KR hooker Josh Hodgson and former Bradford and Catalans Dragons second rower Elliott Whitehead, Raiders’ recruitment and high performance manager Peter Mulholland watched all 12 clubs at the Magic Weekend in Newcastle during a two-week trip to England to identify more potential recruits.

Mulholland, who also visited Everton’s football academy to assess their high-performance set-up, said: “We all know the success that we’ve had with the signings of Josh Hodgson and Elliott Whitehead, so we wanted to see if there were any other players in the Super League or at a junior level who we think we might like to give an opportunity to at the Raiders.

“It makes it a lot easier to talk to these players and their managers if we can see them in person and determine if there is potential for us to begin a relationship.

“The Magic Weekend is a wonderful event and it saves you trekking all over the country and trying to watch six different games as it’s all at one venue. I think the players lift for it because the atmosphere is absolutely amazing.

“There were five or six youngsters that really took my eye, who in two or three years we could certainly have a look at.”

Mulholland also took the opportunity to open discussions with the manager of England international Whitehead, Andy Clarke, about extending his initial two-year contract after his successful debut season in the NRL.

“We’ve started the discussions about Elliott in earnest as we’re keen to have him secure with the club for a longer period,” he said. “I know he’s keen to stay and we are working through a process to make that happen.

“He’s been tremendous for us since arriving and we think he has a future at the Raiders.”

Mullholland said the club were happy with full-back Jack Wighton, which rules out a move for Hardaker, who has a burning desire to play in the NRL and was placed on the transfer list by the Rhinos at the weekend at an asking price of £300,000.