Hardaker puts the team first

Zak Hardaker says he’ll carry on putting the team before himself as the debate rages over whether he or the returning Bevan French should play fullback for Wigan.

The versatile 30-year-old produced another stand-out show, and scored a fine solo try, as the Warriors won 19-6 against Leeds Rhinos on Thursday to make it three wins from three in Super League plus another, over York, in the Challenge Cup.

Now Adrian Lam’s side will aim to maintain the successful sequence when they host Hardaker’s previous club Castleford Tigers on Thursday.

French was named fullback in last year’s Super League Dream Team, but the former Parramatta man has not yet featured this year after an extended close-season break back in Australia.

In his absence, Hardaker has flourished in the role, also prompting claims former Wigan coach Shaun Wane should pick him ahead of Sam Tomkins when England play the Combined Nations All Stars in a World Cup warm-up match in June.

Lam admitted: “He’s making it tough for me. We’ll sort all that out in the next week or two.”

Hardaker, now in his third season at Wigan said: “I’m 30 now and different to how I was at 20. I don’t make demands, I just turn out and try to do what I’m asked to do and put my best foot forward for the team.”

Hardaker’s try against Leeds came with half-time approaching. He spotted opposite number Jack Broadbent out of position and delicately kicked over the defensive line, before collecting and crossing.

“As a fullback, I know that there can be a fair bit of space behind you in situations like that, and luckily for me, the ball popped up nicely,” he said.

Despite his side’s 100 per cent record, Hardaker says there is plenty of improvement to be had.

“We’re still a bit scratchy and fixing things up week by week,” he added.

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