Hardaker is “lead option” for Rhinos kicking duties

Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott has revealed that full-back Zak Hardaker is the “lead option” to take over from Kevin Sinfield as first choice goalkicker at the club in 2016.

Hardaker took up the kicking duties in America last week during Leeds’ pre-season tour, and he will do so again on Sunday when the Rhinos entertain Bradford in Carl Ablett’s testimonial.

And McDermott insisted that he has plenty of candidates to replace Kevin Sinfield as the man on the tee this season, but said that Hardaker is ahead of the rest at the moment.

“He’s a decent striker,” he said.

“He can kick a ball, there’s no doubt about that. He’s had a crack over the last couple of seasons. Whether he kicks every single week, we’ll have a look at that, but he’s probably the lead option at the moment.

“Liam Sutcliffe can kick, Rob Burrow can kick. Brett Delaney’s a great goal kicker but he doesn’t want it now. And Brett Ferres is no slouch either. But the first couple of blokes you look to are probably Zak and Liam Sutcliffe.”

Make sure you check out Monday’s League Express – we’ll have a full interview with Hardaker about the goalkicking, his hopes for 2016 and how he follows on from a quite astonishing 2015 season.