Zak Hardaker's joy at returning to full-back role for Wigan Warriors

Zak Hardaker’s excitement about the new season has gone up a notch after being reinstated to his preferred full-back role.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 2:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 2:52 pm
Zak Hardaker playing at centre last season

The Yorkshireman made a career for himself in the No.1 with Leeds and Castleford, and enjoyed a successful debut campaign with Wigan in that spot.

But the arrival of Bevan French saw him move to centre last season, a switch he admits took some adjusting.

With French late back from Australia after being given extra time to spend with his family, Hardaker has spent the last few weeks training at full-back.

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“I’m really looking forward to doing it, whether it’s two weeks, four weeks, I’m not sure,” said the 29-year-old.

“If Bevan comes in and he’s flying, it may be a case of me going back to centre. There’s no time frame, we’ll take it each game.

“Full-back is my favourite position and I’m looking forward to it but going forward, it’s wherever benefits the team.”

Hardaker settled into the right centre role and did a good job but by his own admission, he took time to make the adjustment.

“I had those conversations with Lammy after lockdown, I’d play centre and not get as much ball or as many involvements as I’d like,” he said.

“But three or four weeks into it I grew into it and by the back end I really enjoyed the physicality of it.

“We felt we had the best right edge in the comp’.”

As full-back, he will take charge of the backs against Leigh on Friday night with youngsters Umyla Hanley, James O’Donnell and Sam Halsall on standby to play.

They have all played one competitive match for the club, against St Helens last year, and Hardaker said: “The young lads train hard, we all go hard together, we wrestle each other, we go toe for toe, so I’m confident as a senior lad that they will turn up and do their job.

“As a back five, I’ll be full-back, it’s my job to guide them and tell them what positions to be in and my role goes up a little bit. I’m fully confident in them.

“We’re gifted at Wigan of having youngsters coming through, and they keep getting better and better.

“I remember being at Leeds, one game I saw eight or nine names on the teamsheet I didn’t know and they beat us at the DW.”