LEEDS RHINOS need to ”regroup” ahead of Friday’s trip to Salford Red Devils, full-back Zak Hardaker says.
Hardaker made his comeback after a five-game ban in last week’s 24-24 draw with Castleford Tigers.
And while he was delighted to be back in the thick of the action, he admitted it was a disappointing result and Rhinos will need to improve to get their hands on silverware this season.
“Buying a full team they were always going to struggle at the start of the season,” Hardaker said of Friday’s hosts, who defeated Hull KR 38-18 yesterday.
“But it’s the business end which is most important and towards the back end of the year they have started playing well.
“The important thing for us last week was we didn’t lose. We got a point on the board and now we need to regroup, look at what we did right and what we did wrong and make sure we come up with a good performance at Salford this week.”
Hardaker admitted failure to win the game against Cas took the gloss off his own return to action.
“It was real good to be back out there,” he said. “I have really missed playing for Leeds and it was good to get out there with the lads again. But the draw wasn’t what we went out there for and there was a bit of disappointment afterwards.
“We kept handing the ball over in their 20 or 30 and in the first half we didn’t stick to what we’ve been doing all week.”
But after watching the previous five games from the sidelines, Hardaker was satisfied with his own effort and feels he will get better with more games under his belt.
“I thought I did all right,” he said. “I was a bit achy and a bit blowy at times, but that is going to happen in the first game back. I thought I contributed all right to the team and I didn’t do anything wrong, which is the main thing.”
Hardaker was developing a reputation as the best defensive full-back in the country before his ban. He made several crucial tackles against Tigers and admitted that was a confidence-booster ahead of the crucial games coming up.
“I was pretty good at that at the start of the season,” he said.
“I had a five-game rest and I’ve come back and done it again, which means I have not gone off my game. That’s important for me and the team.
“Hopefully I can continue to do that for the rest of the season.”