Castleford Tigers scrum-half Luke Gale has admitted that he believes Zak Hardaker is already producing the kind of form in a Cas shirt which saw him named Super League’s best player two seasons ago.
Hardaker was named the Steve Prescott Man of Steel after helping Leeds win the treble in 2015, earning an England call-up in the process for the Test series victory against New Zealand.
And Gale, speaking to the club’s official YouTube channel, says Hardaker is “back”.
“For me, you don’t realise how good he is until you play with him,” he said.
“I’ve played against him a number of times and he’s been outstanding. He’s been showing his Man of Steel form in the three games he’s played – he’s back.
“You’ve got to be happy (with their unbeaten start) – we’re on fire. Everyone has been outstanding and we spoke about a big start and we’ve delivered it.”
Gale also admitted he is hoping for a big season to secure a place on the plane to Australia for the World Cup later this year.
He said: “It’s a massive year personally as well as for the club. You want to secure that seven jersey and if we keep playing like this it’ll go a long way to doing that.
“I’ve been meeting and training with England and that’s been good but I’m just focussed on playing well week in, week out.”
The league leaders head to Widnes – one of only two sides without a win this season – on Sunday, but despite their shaky start, Gale has warned Castleford will have to be on their guard.
“They got a good point last week and I don’t think we can underestimate them,” he said. “Denis Betts gets them playing some good footy and it’ll be a test backing it up week-by-week. I’m sure the boys will be pumped and ready for it.”