Leeds Rhinos: I'm not yet ready for big stage - Hardaker

Engage Super League is his ultimate aim, but teenage prospect Zak Hardaker insists he is happy to spend one more year in the Co-op Championship.

Hardaker, 19, joined Leeds Rhinos on a five-year deal in October – and was immediately loaned back to his previous club, Featherstone Rovers, for the entire 2011 campaign.

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The former Featherstone Lions winger scored 22 tries in only 14 appearances last season and is regarded as one of the country's most exciting emerging talents.

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But despite all the hype, he is honest enough to admit that he still has plenty of learning to do before he will be ready for top-flight rugby.

"It is (returning to Rovers on loan) what I wanted to do, because I don't think I'm really ready to do a full season in Super League just yet," he revealed.

"Getting into the team (at Leeds) is another thing. I really enjoyed my first season at Featherstone and I always said I wanted to do a second

year, before any interest came in anyway.

"I am really glad I am still at Featherstone, because it is a lovely club and I am from there, so I love it."

Hardaker was chased by a host of top clubs, including Warrington and Hull, but he said: "I didn't hear from Leeds until the last week and as

soon as Leeds cropped up I jumped on it.

"It was an easy decision to make. I am a Leeds fan and this is my area as well.

"It's a lot different from Featherstone, but I am really enjoying it."

Hardaker is currently training with both Leeds and Rovers.

"It has been a bit confusing at times for the first couple of weeks, but I am getting the hang of it now," he said.

"It is a bit strange putting my Featherstone Rovers training gear on and then my Leeds gear, but I am getting used to it.

"At the moment I am training through the day with Leeds, training once on a night with Featherstone and taking it in turns on a Saturday morning as well.

"I've been enjoying it."

Rhinos will travel to Big Fellas Stadium for a pre-season game on Sunday, January 23. Hardaker hasn't yet been told which team he will turn out for – though he joked he could play a half for each.

"We haven't spoken about it yet, I think that's left up to Daryl (Powell, the Rovers coach) and Brian (McDermott, the Leeds boss).

"I don't mind, so we'll have to wait and find out."

Weather-permitting, Hardaker will make his first appearance for Leeds in the Boxing Day charity game against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and he said: "It's a chance to find my feet in the team and see what it's like against Super League opposition – and to play in front of a crowd at Headingley.

"I am going to put pressure on myself a little bit to perform. I want to show the fans, myself, my family and the coach that I am not going to bottle it.

"Hopefully I will come out and play well. I want to enjoy it. I'll have a few nerves before the game, but I should be all right.

"After the first 10 to 15 minutes, when I've had hold of the ball, got tackled and made a tackle, the nerves should settle.

"It is a different atmosphere, a different club, a different pitch, different players to play with.

"I am really looking forward to it, it should be a good experience."

* RHINOS' Australian hooker Danny Buderus is due to return to England on New Year's Day.

Buderus was granted extended leave in Australia to attend the birth of his second child.

Lachlan Sidney Buderus –- weighing 8lb 14oz – was born at the weekend.

Kalvin Phillips celebrates scoring Leeds' second goal of the game Picture by Simon Hulme

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