By Seb Sternik
It’s no secret that Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers are long-time rivals in the world of rugby league. When the news broke that Rhinos star Zak Hardaker decided to join Castleford, social media exploded.
Following a turbulent year and a loan spell in Australia, the England international is back in the Super League after signing a one year loan deal with the Castleford Tigers.
When the deal was announced, many supporters were left in disbelief. Despite this, media outlets are suggesting that this is a positive move for the player.
Aaron Bower of Total Rugby League wrote: “While it could have been easy to stay at former club Leeds for the bulk of his career, the opportunity to have a new challenge in Super League was something that definitely appealed to him.”
Meanwhile, Gary Carter at The Sun reported that Hardaker’s move to Castleford was fuelled by his good relationship with the current Castleford head coach, Daryl Powell: “His priority was joining Castleford, where he has been reunited with Daryl Powell, who coached him at Featherstone.”
The 25-year-old made a name for himself in Leeds. Hardaker was a young prospect when he joined the club in 2011, and went on to become a club hero after leading the Rhinos to success in 2015.
While Leeds won every domestic title on offer, Hardaker clinched the Man of Steel award and became one of the hottest properties in the business.
However, as quickly as success came, it all seemed to disperse overnight. Following a successful 2015, the fullback went through a tumultuous time in his personal life.
Hardaker told The Daily Telegraph: “My life became a bit of a blur to be honest. I didn’t cope with it too well. I didn’t know what to do. I sat myself in a little corner and didn’t move for a week. It was a dark time. If there is anything I’ve learnt, there is more to life than the bottom of a drink.”
— Jack Newsome (@Newsomeofficial) November 8, 2016
— Neil Brook (@Neil_A_Brook) November 8, 2016
Castleford Tigers supporters are certainly excited about the arrival of Hardaker. However, in order to find out what type of player they’ll get, they will have to wait until the start of the season.