Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker ‘buzzing’ at prospect of his head-to-head with Wigan full-back Bowen

Wigan Warriors full-back Matty Bowen.
Wigan Warriors full-back Matty Bowen.
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MAN OF Steel Zak Hardaker is relishing his personal Grand Final head-to-head with Wigan Warriors full-back Matty Bowen.

Hardaker and Bowen, who will leave Wigan after Saturday’s game, are established as two of the best full-backs in First Utility Super League.

The Leeds man is on a high after receiving the most prestigious honour in the British game at Monday’s awards ceremony, but he admitted he will need to play well at Old Trafford to outshine Wigan’s in-form Aussie No 1.

“He looked brilliant in Wigan’s semi-final against Huddersfield,” Hardaker observed.

“He has grown into that full-back role as the season’s gone on and looked really comfortable.

“Some of the breaks and little passes were really good, but I thought Wigan played well.

“John Bateman went really well in the centres too and they’ve got some exciting players.”

Wigan romped to a 32-8 victory, 24 hours before Rhinos were pushed all the way by St Helens.

“They played really well,” Hardaker acknowledged. “Huddersfield didn’t do themselves justice – they were just off on the night – but Wigan played really well and it’s going to be a good old game at Old Trafford.

“We know what we’re capable of as a team and if we all put 100 per cent in we have a really good chance of winning.”

Hardaker was a try scorer for Rhinos in their 2011 Grand Final win over St Helens and also featured when they retained the trophy the following year, by beating Warrington Wolves.

“I am really excited to be going back to Old Trafford,” Hardaker said.

“I am buzzing. The atmosphere there is incredible.

“It is going to be a full-house and the Leeds fans get behind us every time.

“The atmosphere should be great and the boys will really thrive.”

Tom Briscoe.

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