Leeds Rhinos fullback has set himself the target of becoming England’s undisputed No. 1 by the end of this year, as he looks to oust Sam Tomkins from a role he has made his own in recent years.
Amidst a controversial suspension midway through 2014, on the field, Hardaker enjoyed a great year for Leeds – being named amongst Super League’s Top 50 players by Rugby League World magazine. However, despite being picked to go on tour for the Four Nations, Hardaker failed to get a runout for England during the tournament.
And Hardaker admits it was frustrating to not get a chance in the Four Nations, saying he feels he had a better year than Tomkins, who was making his debut for New Zealand Warriors in the NRL.
“I just wish I’d have had a game (at the Four Nations). That’s all I ask for – just a game,” he told the Yorkshire Post.
“I thought I’d played pretty well last year. If you go on my performance and his I’d say I had the better year. But obviously him playing in Australia and him being the No. 1, it’s his shirt isn’t it?
“This year’s my year, though, and I’m really going to give it some so there’ll be no questions asked about whose shirt it should be by the end of 2015. That’s my aim. I want to be England full-back.”
Hardaker admits though, that his first challenge will be to cement himself as the top fullback in Super League before he thinks about going after Tomkins – as well as revealing he’ll have to watch his back at Leeds, with the emergence of Ash Golding.
“A few people are saying about Kevin Locke and Morgan Escare this season so first I want to stamp my authority on Super League. But, honestly, I’ll have a really big year so when it comes to it there can be no arguments who has the No. 1 shirt as it will be me.
“Having said that, Ash Golding, the young full-back at Leeds, has been tearing it up while I’ve been off so I have to watch my back as he might pinch my shirt here.”