Leeds Rhinos: Form full-back Hardaker in hunt for a new trophy cabinet

Man of Steel, and Challenge Cup and Grand Final winner Zak Hardaker.
Man of Steel, and Challenge Cup and Grand Final winner Zak Hardaker.
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A WELL-KNOWN furniture store can expect a visit from Leeds Rhinos’ man of the moment sometime soon.

Already a winner of two Challenge Cup finals and a brace of Super League titles, Hardaker has added another couple of honours to his collection.

“I’m going to definitely have to go to IKEA now after this week,” Hardaker said following Rhinos’ 22-20 Grand Final win over Wigan Warriors.

“A Man of Steel trophy and now a Grand Final winner’s ring to put in there, I need a new trophy cabinet!”

It has been an historic year for Rhinos and Hardaker and he admitted: “It is fantastic and hugely overwhelming.

“I’m not sure when it’ll sink in, the enormity of what we’ve done this year, it has been astonishing.

“I’d forgotten about the Challenge Cup, top spot and even the Man of Steel ahead of the Grand Final because it was important all my attention was on this one.

“Fortunately I put it to the back of my mind and I managed to concentrate fully on this, but now we’ve achieved it all I can look back with so much pride.

“It has been incredible to be involved with this team and this culture we’ve built up. It’s tremendous. “

Leeds looked down and out when they trailed 20-16 after an hour, but Hardaker insisted: “We never know when we’re beaten. We love it when people write us off, say there’s nothing in the tank and stuff like that. We targeted the treble, we put a lot of hard work into this year and there’s nothing about luck involved – it’s hard work.”

Grand Final victory was the perfect farewell for Rhinos legends Kevin Sinfield, Kylie Leuluai and Jamie Peacock and Hardaker added: “I’ve been so proud to be associated with these three blokes. They’ve taught me a lot in both rugby terms and in wider life and as a professional. I owe them a great deal, for them to be leaving to pastures new is disappointing because I’d have really liked them to have stuck around for a while longer.

“However, Kylie is sticking around the club and getting involved, Kevin will be training at the same facility and Jamie’s only off to Hull KR so they won’t be that far away. They’ll bob their head in now and again to see how we are and I’m sure they’ll continue to offer advice to us moving forward.”