Hardaker insists coming to Castleford is a “big challenge”

Castleford Tigers’ new signing Zak Hardaker believes his move to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle is a “big challenge” – and says the fact they are on the cusp of cracking Super League’s top four is what will drive him on in 2017.

Hardaker completed his move to Cas earlier this week, signing a one-year loan deal with a view to a permanent switch after that.

And the England international admits while it could have been easy to stay at former club Leeds for the bulk of his career, the opportunity to have a new challenge in Super League was something that definitely appealed to him.

“I could have stayed there for another 10 years and been happy with my career, but I want to challenge myself and explore different things,” he said.

“Going to Australia was a big thing for me and coming to Castleford – a rival club – is a big challenge. It’s a club that’s not far off and hopefully I can achieve something with Castleford.

“That is going to drive me on this year. I can see why people stay at Leeds because it’s a fantastic club and it’s great to be around, but I want to do different things and achieve different things.

“Inevitably I was going to leave. I thought it was going to be after this contract I am on, that’s what I was looking towards. But it has come sooner and I am pretty pleased about where I am at now.”

Hardaker also revealed he did have an option to stay in the NRL following a short-term deal with Penrith earlier this season – but described the chance to work with his former coach at Featherstone, Daryl Powell, as the “perfect fit”.

“I am really glad it’s sorted and excited for what will hopefully be a great year,” he said. “My mum works in Castleford so everybody’s been asking if I’m coming here.

“The deal went through on Sunday, but talks have been on-going for a few weeks now. There were a few other clubs as well, which I don’t think I was that interested in.

“I was offered Newcastle on loan for a year, but I wasn’t really interested. Being out there [in Australia] on my own, it was a bit different to being here.

“Now I live about five minutes up the road [from the Jungle], five minutes away from my auntie, five minutes away from my friends. Castleford was the perfect fit.”