Former Featherstone star Hardaker makes switch to NRL

Zak Hardaker
Zak Hardaker

Former Featherstone Rovers star and 2015 Man of Steel Zak Hardaker is set to achieve his ambition of playing club rugby league in Australia after signing for Penrith Panthers.

First Utility Super League champions Leeds Rhinos have agreed a deal with NRL side Penrith that will see Papua New Guinea international hooker James Segeyaro, 25, move to Headingley Carnegie and the Rhinos and England full-back Hardaker, 24, will move in the opposite direction.

The deals are with immediate effect and for the remainder of the 2016 season with a view to a potential long-term arrangement. Hardaker remains transfer listed by the Rhinos for the remainder of his contract while Segeyaro is out of contract with the Panthers this year.

Hardaker is the incumbent England full back and will get to fulfil his desire to play in the NRL this season. He signed for the Rhinos in 2011 from Featherstone Rovers and has gone onto make 155 appearances, scoring 67 tries and 45 goals including returning to the side for last Friday’s win at Wakefield. He played in all three Tests for England in their series win over World Champions, New Zealand last year and was part of the England group who met with new head coach Wayne Bennett last week.

Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott said: “It is pleasing that we have been able to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. Zak goes with our best wishes and I am pleased for him that he has been able to fulfil his ambition of playing in the NRL.

“When Zak came to us to request a move, it was always going to be important that we were able to strengthen our group and in James Segeyaro we have a great opportunity to bring in a highly rated player into our group.”