MAN OF Steel Zak Hardaker admits it will be impossible to have a better year than 2015.
England beat New Zealand 20-14 to complete a 2-1 Test series triumph in the Leeds Rhinos full-back’s 35th and final match of a season which began nine months ago. That added the Baskerville Shield to the Challenge Cup, league leaders’ shield and Super League title grand slam won by Hardaker and Rhinos this year.
“It has been a dream year,” Hardaker said. “I don’t think you can better it, you can only aspire to equal it.
“I always try and take things one step at a time and the next step for me is about six weeks off.
“I am quite glad to get the break, then the dreaded pre-season begins in January. I am taking things as they come, but it is good to reflect on the year I’ve had and what I’ve achieved.”
Comparing international success to the trophies he has won with Leeds, Hardaker said: “It is just as good.
“I am sure next year, when we look back, this will be in the history books, because it is going to, hopefully, put English rugby league on the map, where it should be.”
Hardaker is in line for one more honour, after being shortlisted for the Golden Boot, awarded to the world’s best player. Favourite for that is Australian play-maker Johnathan Thurston, who will line up for North Queensland Cowboys against Rhinos in February’s World Club Challenge.