Leeds Rhinos' Zak Hardaker admits it's "weird" how history is repeating itself

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josie andrews
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Leeds Rhinos' Zak Hardaker admits it's "weird" how history is repeating itself

Post by josie andrews »

England star won the Grand Final with Rhinos from fifth spot in 2012 and - ten years on - momentum's gathering to do it again as Rohan Smith's resurgent side head to Wigan in Friday's Super League semi-final

Zak Hardaker is getting deja vu about Leeds ’ surprise title push - spelling bad news for his former side Wigan.

The Betfred Super League giants go head-to-head at DW Stadium on Friday night for a place in next Saturday’s Grand Final. Wigan have been in the top-two almost all season and hope to complete the double after already lifting the Challenge Cup. In contrast, Rhinos were fearing a relegation dogfight until Rohan Smith arrived in May.

They only confirmed their play-offs spot with a late win against Castleford on the last day of the regular season. But Leeds’ stunning surge saw them finish fifth, bringing back memories of when they became the first team to win Super League from that position in 2011. They repeated the feat 12 months later - no other side has done it since - and England star Hardaker played in both Grand Final glories.

He helped Rhinos knock-out Catalans in Perpignan last week to set up Friday's showdown and it’s no surprise to see him fancying Leeds’ chances of pulling off another shock. Hardaker, 30, said: “It kind of mirrors what happened in 2012. That last time we had to go to Catalans and Wigan so there’s a lot of familiar processes. It is weird.

“But you just have to beat whoever’s in front of you. We know that. We’re excited. The expectations of being in this position a few weeks were slim. But we’ve just had a really good time these last couple of months, played some good rugby and to find ourselves 80 minutes from a Grand Final, the biggest game of the year, you have to think ‘Wow.’”

The former Man of Steel makes his first return to Wigan since leaving in April amid controversial circumstances after being dropped by Matty Peet. But now centre Hardaker hopes to dump them out of the comp’. He knows just what the Warriors are capable of having played alongside Dream Team duo Jai Field and Bevan French who’ve been scoring tries for fun this year.

But Hardaker insisted: “There’s no pressure on us whatsoever. The pressure is on Wigan. They'll be full of confidence, they haven’t been beaten at home all season, they’ve had a lovely week off which will have done them the world of good and now we’re going into their backyard. But we toughed it out at Catalans and we’ll do the same at Wigan. We know we can beat them.”

That’s true: Leeds annihilated Warriors 42-12 at Headingley in July, nullifying Man of Steel nominee Field and Super League’s top scorer French. Hardaker added: “Jai and Bevan have set the field alight and are absolutely fantastic players. You can’t really try and plan a full team against just two players. But when they’ve been that good for this year it does have to be a big focus for us again on Friday.

We did a really good job against them both at Headingley. We just tried to shut them down and not give them as much time. When you give them time, they both become really dangerous. Importantly we do things collectively as a team and not individually. Sometimes you see people in other teams try and go get Jai Field and I've trained with him and played with him and that’s his bread and butter.

We did a really good job against them both at Headingley. We just tried to shut them down and not give them as much time. When you give them time, they both become really dangerous. Importantly we do things collectively as a team and not individually. Sometimes you see people in other teams try and go get Jai Field and I've trained with him and played with him and that’s his bread and butter.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/rugby-le ... n-28004355
Anyone can support a team when it is winning, that takes no courage.
But to stand behind a team, to defend a team when it is down and really needs you,
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EDINBURGH-WARRIOR
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Re: Leeds Rhinos' Zak Hardaker admits it's "weird" how history is repeating itself

Post by EDINBURGH-WARRIOR »

Should be more concerned about history repeating itself when he ends up in trouble again with various authorities

EW
2002 and EW is hooked
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