Zak Hardaker discusses his relationship with Adrian Lam and reflects on his journey with Leigh Leopards to the Challenge Cup final

Zak Hardaker says he’s loved every moment of the recent journey he’s been on.
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The 28-year-old departed Wigan Warriors last April, before joining Leeds Rhinos, whom he represented in the 2022 Grand Final at Old Trafford.

Ahead of the current campaign, the centre made the move to Leigh, and will be part of their Leopards team taking on Hull KR in this weekend’s Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

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“It’s pretty evident in my career that I don’t do things quietly,” Hardaker said.

Zak HardakerZak Hardaker
Zak Hardaker

“It’s been a mad 18 months. I was at Wigan, then I went to Leeds, then Leigh.

“It’s been quite a journey but I’ve loved every minute of it.

“I’ve got things I’d change in my career but no regrets- everything has led me to this point now.

“Adrian (Lam) was a really big factor in me joining Leigh.

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“I was with him at Wigan and know what kind of coach he is. He knows what he can get out of me, there’s a great connection.

“After meeting Derek (Beaumont), it wasn’t a hard decision in the end- he wants the club to be something special in years to come so I’m pleased that we can do something special for him now.

“He doesn’t want it to be little Leigh any more, he wants to be out there going for honours.

“I didn’t know they were going to be called Leigh Leopards when I signed. It caught me by surprise at first but everyone just seems to love it now, it has certainly worked.

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“I try to wear it subtly, with hats and socks, but a full kit might be too much for me.

“We’re really excited for the final.

“It’s a pretty special week, I woke up with a spring in my step- I can’t wait for Saturday.

“It’s about enjoying the occasion and enjoying the moment because you don’t know how often you’ll be there.

“It’s pretty magic, it’s a game like no other.

“The Challenge Cup has got a rich history, it’s great when you get down there- it’s got that feeling of something a bit different.

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“All the hard work we’ve put in is coming good for us- it’s refreshing.

“I’m a Featherstone Rovers fan as well, so I know how passionate Leigh are because of the strong rivalry there.

“You can see how much it means to the supporters- it’s a great club and I’m privileged to be a part of it.”

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Hardaker believes Adrian Lam learnt a lot during his spell as Warriors head coach between 2019 and 2021.

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“He went to Wigan which is one of the biggest clubs in the world and has huge expectations,” he added.

“I think he did pretty well. We won the League Leaders and got to the Grand Final, but we couldn’t do the job there.

“He managed a really big club so he’ll be using that experience this year.

“Everyone is enjoying it, and the fans love him.

“It’s about playing for him and doing what he wants us to do.

“I got to grips with how he wants to go into games at Wigan, and on the flip side he got a look at what he can expect from me, so I was more than happy to sign for him at Leigh.”