Why Zak Hardaker believes Wigan Warriors are capable of trophy clean-sweep
Zak Hardaker says there would be “no excuses” if Wigan fail to deliver one of the major trophies this year.
The centre is entering his third season with the club.
And with a settled, strong squad and coaching team – plus the addition of Jai Field and John Bateman – he has declared his ambition of achieving a Challenge Cup and Super League double in 2021.
Wigan won the League Leaders’ Shield last season and lost a Grand Final epic 8-4 to St Helens, having improved on the previous year when they were knocked out by Salford in the play-offs.
Hardaker said: “In my first year at Wigan it probably took me a while to get into my groove, and it was Lammy’s first year as coach, people were saying it was a transition.
“Last year was weird for many reasons, but we finished with the League Leaders’ and just came up short in the Grand Final.
“This year I feel we are fully into how Lammy’s rugby brain works, how he wants us to play, there’ll be no excuses if we don’t have success.
"Personally, I don’t see why we can’t do the lot.
“You come to Wigan, you’re expected to win something and that goes without saying, but why can’t we win everything?”
Asked whether he had watched last year’s Grand Final – in which Jack Welsby scored a winning try in the final play – Hardaker replied: “I’ve not, but I’m not the kind to do that, I probably wouldn’t have watched it back if we’d won. It happened and you move on, that’s the way I am.”
Wigan will start their new campaign at Hardaker’s old ground, Leeds’ Headingley – with a behind-closed-doors match against Super League newcomers Leigh on March 25.
“I think last year, everyone was hoping for some kind of normality by March or April and that included some crowds at games,” said the 29-year-old.
“And it’s hard on the fans, they want something to look forward to at the weekends. We’ve got some pretty big stadiums so even if you had a limited crowd and spread them around a bit, hopefully they’ll be back soon.
“I’d even take some swearing and heckling!”
Hardaker had a hair transplant in the off-season and documented the procedure on his Instagram account, admitting he took the decision because he didn’t like how he looked bald.
“When I put the post up about my hair transplant I thought, ‘I’m going to get the mick taken out of me here’, but I’m not bothered about people who want to do that,” said the former Man of Steel.
“What was nice was the 30 or 40 messages I got from people I’d helped or reassured.
“I’ve had people saying they were uncertain about the procedure and after hearing what I said, they’d now booked on, so that’s the rewarding bit.”
Asked if he was happy with the transplant, Hardaker added: “So far, so good. I’m hoping I’ll have a nice fringe for the first game... but if I have a scrum hat on, you’ll know why!”