Zak Hardaker: Why Great Britain loss was not down to Jermaine McGillvary error

Jermaine McGillvary would have drawn the score level if he had grounded this try. Picture: SWPix
Jermaine McGillvary would have drawn the score level if he had grounded this try. Picture: SWPix

Zak Hardaker says it would be unfair to lay the blame for Great Britain’s Test defeat against New Zealand at the feet of Jermaine McGillvary.

The Lions were trailing 12-8 when a 77th-minute attack finished with Hardaker passing a ball to McGillvary, who looked certain to touch down in the corner to lock the score – with a conversion attempt to come.

But the Huddersfield winger lost possession under a heavy tackle from Kenny Bromwich and a chance to draw or win the Test went begging.

“It’s a tough one, it’s a lonely spot on the wing,” said Hardaker.

“Jerry comes up with so many good plays and you can look at it like, ‘Did he miss a try? Or was it an awesome try-saving tackle?’

“He’s really disappointed with himself.

“But we shouldn’t have had to come up with something like that to try and win the game.”

The score was 2-2 at half-time before the tourists were hit by two tries in six minutes from Jamayne Isaako and Corey Harawira-Naera to go 10 points behind and posed their only real threats when it was too late.

Replacement hooker Daryl Clark went over for a try to give them hope before McGillvary’s late chance.

“A sloppy mis-tackle up the field led to their first try, and if we were a bit more urgent around the ball, their other try is held up nine times out of 10,” said Hardaker.

“So you can look at it that Jerry didn’t score his opportunity but it shouldn’t have got to that stage.”

McGillvary admitted: "I should be finishing those. It was my fault, if I had scored we would have drawn or potentially won the game.

"It's what happens when you're a winger. You're basically a goalkeeper, when you make a mistake, it's massive.

"I've had it a lot of my career but I've got tough skin. I was disappointed for two days but now I've moved on from it. I want to make amends."

Hardaker has played at right centre in the opening two Tests but will have a new position as GB seek their first win this Saturday.

He will switch to the wing to cover for the loss of Ryan Hall after coach Wayne Bennett ruled out bringing anyone else into his Great Britain squad. Bennett had only included two wingers in his 24-man squad.

Assistant coach Ian Watson does not believe the enforced changes weaken the team as they go in search of a series-levelling win.

"I think Zak will be great for us being out on the edge," Watson said. "His utility value is massive for us, being able to play centre, full-back and wing.

"I don't think that will be a big loss just because of the person Zak is and Hughesy has played in the centre for Warrington and he's played at half as well so he's got the ability and the skill to play there.

"But the big thing is that he's very defensively sound which in international football is huge."