Leeds Rhinos full-back Zak Hardaker admits he never expected to be included in England’s latest mid-season training camp, after his controversial exit from the squad during the last World Cup.
Hardaker left before the end of the tournament, and claims he didn’t speak to Steve McNamara again until a few weeks ago, when he was informed he was selected for the training camp held earlier this week. And Hardaker admits he didn’t think he would get the call, and insists he was fully focused on Leeds.
“No, there were no expectations whatsoever. My full focus was just on Leeds Rhinos and having a big season for them and obviously if Steve felt I was playing that well and the call came off the back of that, that would be all good,” Hardaker said.
“But it was never in my mind that I’d be anywhere near the tour. Obviously I knew there was a tour at the end of the year and that was a realistic goal, but I would have to prove my form so playing well so far this year has done me some good favours.
“We hadn’t spoken. I think he phoned me a couple of days before the Leigh game in the Challenge Cup to let me know I had been picked, I would be welcome and would I enjoy it again?
“We had a good conversation on the phone and I said of course I would. It is a good chance to represent my country and it’s a great honour. I hadn’t spoken to him prior to that, so it was a surprising phone call.”