Ryan Brierley has revealed how Zak Hardaker helped him get him through a ‘dark place’ in his life following a breakdown in relationship with his former club.
The Huddersfield Giants star, who last month wrote an open letter to Leigh fans in Rugby League World, found himself in need of support after being suspended by his former employers.
And it was the reigning Man of Steel who came to the aid of Brierley in his time of need, with the friendship blossoming out of a mutual respect for each other from their days playing each other growing up.
“When I was getting a lot of stick, he was the one who stood by me more than anyone, and I think that tells you a lot about the man himself.
“Zak had a bit of a tough time a while back and I just returned the favour. It’s a very special bond we’ve got and he’s one of the best guys in the game.
“In our industry there are a lot of jealous people out there, but Zak is not one of them. He is made up more than anyone to see me fulfil my Super League dream and is always made up for other people when they get success too. I can’t speak highly enough of him and he deserves all the success he gets.
“It was only through talking to Zak that I changed my mindset about certain things. I realised that you aren’t going to please everybody.”
That friendship shall be temporarily put to one side on Friday as the two clash on the field, with a spot in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals the prize.
“It looks like I’ll be going up against Zak Friday night, but it doesn’t change anything for me. It’s just nice for us all to be able to share a field playing that game that we love, which is Rugby League.
“There’s no guaranteed wins for us, we know that, and we know we have to come in and be our best every day of every week.”