Why Wigan Warriors full-back Zak Hardaker's confidence is growing in play-off race

Zak Hardaker says he knew Wigans form would improve  they have climbed the table in recent weeks to mount a play-offs charge
Zak Hardaker says he knew Wigans form would improve they have climbed the table in recent weeks to mount a play-offs charge

Zak Hardaker is loving the dogfights in Super League – even though his former club are fighting the drop.

Leeds Rhinos are one of four sides who headed into round 21 locked in a fight at the bottom of the table.

Asked whether he thinks they will get relegated, he said: “I don’t know.

“But I love how it is now when bottom can beat top. It’s not great if a big club goes down but if you’re out the danger zone it’s pretty entertaining to watch.”

The intense battle is being felt higher up the ladder as Wigan try and tighten their grip on a play-offs spot amid intense competition from sides around them.

A victory tonight would close the gap on third-placed Hull FC to just two points, if Lee Radford’s outfit lose to Saints this evening.

And Hardaker reckons third is a realistic target.

“Saints are leading the charge and Warrington are going really well but there are five or six teams in a dogfight below that,” he said.

“Third is a reality and it’s up to us now.

“We’re looking to push for third place and everything is heading in the right direction.

“We’ve started firing and we’re in the top five – and I knew it would come.

“We had games earlier this year when we were pipped by a point or two, and it may not look good but it was always going to take time.

“But the talk of a crisis all comes from the outside – nothing from the inside.

“I’ve been at Leeds when we had a ‘crisis’ there, but we finished fifth and won a Grand Final.

“I’ve noticed it’s about timing, and we’re coming good for the end of the season.”

He expects a sharp Hull KR side tonight, given their improvement under Tony Smith and the presence of his former Leeds team-mate Danny McGuire, who missed the Robins’ 19-18 defeat to Wigan a month ago.

“Danny’s a great player, so intelligent, one of the best passers of the ball I’ve played with – his pass selection and kicking game is phenomenal and they missed him last

time we played,” added Hardaker.

“They’re a different team when he’s in the side.”