Confident Hardaker has his eye on call-up

YOUNG Leeds Rhinos centre Zak Hardaker sees no reason why he cannot transfer his prolific club partnership with Ryan Hall into England colours.

The 20-year-old has continued his meteoric rise this season following a breakthrough 2011 and is being tipped by many to make his England debut next month.

Hardaker’s progress has been remarkably swift since joining from Featherstone Rovers only 18 months ago.

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He has scored 13 tries in just 15 games so far this term and formed a lethal pairing with winger Hall, who is long established in the national side and currently deemed the world’s finest wideman.

England coach Steve McNamara may be tempted to pitch the duo together against the Exiles on June 16 and Hardaker insists he will be ready if that is the case.

“It could happen as often international coaches do like to keep club pairings together,” he told the Yorkshire Post.

“Obviously, I’d love to represent my country and it is something I want to achieve.

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“It was great to be included in the elite training squad and me and Hally have got a good understanding going.”

Certainly, nothing seems to faze the centre who has taken on the legendary Keith Senior’s No 4 jersey at Headingley.

Fully aware of his potential, Leeds have recently nailed him down to an extended long-term deal and he admits last season’s exploits acted as a natural aid in his development.

“I was only supposed to ease my way in last year, but I managed to get a run at Super League, play in a Grand Final-winning side at Old Trafford and, this year, I’ve won a World Club Challenge after we beat Manly,” he added.

“It’s given me confidence and I think I’ve got bigger and faster this season.

“If I can do it against the Aussies at club level, why not international too?”