FORMER Featherstone Rovers centre Zak Hardaker has agreed a new five year contract extension with World Champions Leeds Rhinos that will keep the 20-year-old at Headingley Carnegie until at least the end of the 2016 Super League season.
The new deal, which includes the current season, comes after the centre has scored 13 tries in 15 appearances this season to improve a career record that has seen him score 54 tries in just 50 senior appearances for Featherstone, Leeds and the England Knights.
Leeds paid Featherstone a substantial fee for Hardaker in October, 2010, after he scored 22 tries in 14 first-team appearances for Rovers in the 2010 season.
Hardaker (pictured) became the youngest Leeds player to ever win a Grand Final with the final try in last October’s win over St Helens and the fourth youngest winner in the history of the Old Trafford showpiece. He has since won a World Club Challenge winners medal and this weekend is hoping to help the Rhinos to the Carnegie Challenge Cup semi final as they face Leigh on Friday night.
Hardaker is delighted with his new Leeds deal.
He said: “I was really pleased when Gary Hetherington offered me the new contract and delighted to commit my future to the club. When I signed for Leeds two years ago, I was prepared to work hard for the next few years and earn my opportunity in the team however things have had happened so fast since then. There are still a lot of things I need to work on but having a long term contract gives me the confidence and time to reach my potential, it also shows me that Gary and Brian McDermott are happy with my progression and want me to be part of the club moving forward.
“Being awarded the number four squad number this year was a massive boost to me and getting so much game time this season has really helped me. Hopefully over the course of this new contract I can show the club, fans and hopefully my country what I can do.”
Leeds head coach Brian McDermott said: “Zak is one of the most exciting young British players in our game and we are delighted to reward his progress so far with a new contract. He knows he still has a long way to go in his career but he has had a fantastic start and we will continue to work hard with him so he can fulfil his potential as a world class player.”