Zak Hardaker will give Wigan Warriors the X-factor, says Oliver Gildart

England centre Oliver Gildart believes new signing Zak Hardaker will bring the '˜X-Factor' to Wigan.

Friday, 21st December 2018, 6:24 am
Zak Hardaker has impressed his new team-mates

Hardaker – who has joined the Warriors on a four-year deal – has highly impressed his coaches and new team-mates since joining them in pre-season training.

And Gildart firmly has no doubts the 27-year-old will light up Super League in 2019. He said: “We’ve brought in Zak and he’s a phenomenal player. He’s someone I look forward to playing alongside.

“Every time you played Leeds or Castleford, he’d be the first man on the sheet that you’d talk about.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“He’s a massive threat so to now be playing alongside him, it’s only going to add another string to our bow.

“He beat us in the Grand Final in 2015 and every time you play against him, you have to make sure you’re switched on. He’s a great talent and a really good lad.

“I’m really looking forward to playing alongside him and hopefully we’ll get the best out of him. I’m confident that he’ll do really well here.”

Gildart, a three-cap England international, believes Hardaker’s arrival will compensate for the departure of Sam Tomkins to Catalans.

“He can give us the X-Factor- he’s that kind of player,” he said. “Every team needs a full-back now who has got something about them and obviously we had Sam Tomkins who was a massive player, but I think Zak is also up there with how good Sam is.”

Hardaker could make his competitive Warriors debut against St Helens on Thursday, January 31 - and Gildart said there’s no bigger game that you can kick-off the Super League season with.

He said: “I can’t wait for it honestly- it’s a bit earlier this year as it’s normally February when we start - and you can’t really ask for a bigger game than that, so I’m just going to be working hard to get myself firing for that first game.”

The 22-year-old memorably scored a sensational solo try, rounding Ben Barba as Wigan comfortably defeated St Helens at the Totally Wicked Stadium in August.

“I take pride on scoring tries, it’s kind of something I’m paid to do so I enjoy that part of the game,” he added. “It’s the best feeling ever - especially as it was in-front of the Wigan end as well so all the lads were going barmy in front of the fans. It’s moments like that you dream of as a young kid, and I get to live that dream week-in, week-out so it’s a special feeling.

“I watched Ben Barba as a kid growing up in the NRL and I used to watch his highlights before I played for Wigan St Pats so I got one over him on that day - but there’s been plenty of times where he’s made me look stupid!”