Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker humbled by his inclusion in ‘Dream Team’

The Dream Team
The Dream Team
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LEEDS RHINOS’ Dream Team full-back Zak Hardaker has called for the Rugby Football League (RFL) to tell him if he is to be charged or cleared over allegedly making offensive comments in the recent defeat to St Helens.

The RFL launched an investigation days after the game, on August 29, but after giving his own side of events to the governing body, Hardaker says he has been left in the dark.

“I have been given no indication of what’s happening,” said Hardaker. “The longer it’s going on the more I wonder why? It is still getting to me and my family.

“It can affect your game. I am trying not to let it, but people booing you every time you get the ball isn’t very helpful. The sooner it gets resolved the better for myself. I would like to know what their decision is.”

Speaking at yesterday’s First Utility Super League Dream Team announcement, Hardaker added: “It has been nearly three weeks now and I can’t really say much about it, because I don’t know myself.

“They are either thinking about what they are doing or they haven’t got anything at all. You (journalists) will probably know before me, because I just find out through Twitter or the media what’s happening. It has gone on three weeks now and I have not heard much myself.”

Hardaker, who was banned for five games for making a homophobic comment in Leeds’ defeat at Warrington Wolves in May, admitted the latest controversy has taken its toll.

“This second time a lot has happened and I have really struggled,” revealed Hardaker. “The first couple of days after it I was getting a bit depressed and got a bit down about myself and I was wondering why I should be in rugby league if I am getting this kind of treatment off the media and the RFL.

“I thought the attention I was getting was unfair and it was getting me down, but I have had a few conversations with various people and I have just got to knock it on the head, put it to one side and crack on with rugby league.

“That’s what I’ve tried to do, week-in and week-out. This (being included in the Dream Team) is a bit of a sunshine over the rainbow kind of thing and it has made me realise why I want to play rugby and be in a rugby league team. Being in this team is really good for me and it has put a big smile on my face.”

Hardaker admitted he was tempted to lock himself out of sight when the latest controversy erupted.

“I wanted to be out of the spotlight,” he said. “I wanted to go into my bedroom, lock the door and not listen to what everyone was saying. Three or four days after the incident it was in the news that I had said this or said that, when clearly no one knew what had been said or what happened.

“No one knew what had happened or what was going on. People had their assumptions and I was getting grief left, right and centre, from the media and the general public as well.

“But I am made to play rugby league and that’s what I’ve done since I was seven. The media part I am not really a fan of, I just want to put my boots on, try my best and hopefully get the two points.

“It has been a bit difficult, but we have got an important few weeks now building up to the Grand Final. I am just going to concentrate on playing as well as I can and hopefully we can get to the Grand Final and win it again.”

The Dream Team also includes Leeds winger Ryan Hall, centre Kallum Watkins, prop Jamie Peacock and second-row Carl Ablett, as well as Castleford Tigers centre Michael Shenton and hooker Daryl Clark.

“It is a goal I set myself at the start of the year and I have achieved that, so it is a massive honour,” Hardaker said of being chosen in the team for the first time. There’s stiff competition throughout every position and if you look at every player, I think it has been fully deserved. I am massively honoured and really humbled that I’ve got the shirt and it has put a big smile on my face.”

The 2014 First Utility Super League Dream Team is: Full-back: Zak Hardaker (Leeds Rhinos), Wing: Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos), Centre: Michael Shenton (Castleford Tigers), Centre: Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos), Wing: Tommy Makinson (St Helens), Stand-off: Kevin Brown (Widnes Vikings), Scrum-half: Matty Smith (Wigan Warriors), Prop: Jamie Peacock (Leeds Rhinos), Hooker: Daryl Clark (Castleford Tigers), Prop: Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves), Second-Row: Elliott Whitehead (Catalan Dragons), Second Row: Carl Ablett (Leeds Rhinos), Loose forward: Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors).

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