Penrith become the frontrunners to sign Hardaker

Penrith Panthers have emerged as the favourites to sign Zak Hardaker.

The NRL side is understood to have expressed an interest in the transfer-listed star, who has been valued at £300,000.

Canberra were understood to be the club pursuing Hardaker the most, but the club’s recruitment manager Peter Mulholland cooled speculation of a swoop for the 24-year-old earlier today, insisting the club has no interest in signing the current Man of Steel.

“We’re really happy with where it [our squad] is, I stayed with [Leeds CEO] Gary Hetherington and I didn’t even ask,” Mulholland told the Canberra Times.

“You’ve only got to look at where Jack Wighton is and it’s probably not a position we’re looking at.

“He’s a good player, don’t get me wrong, and you talk to good players, but I don’t think it’s where we need to be.

“Jack Wighton’s done enough and we’ve got enough good kids coming through; I’m not worried about that one.

“I think his name’s associated with us because he’s a mate of Elliott’s.”

However, the Panthers are understood to be keen on taking the current England international and are in position to snap up the Leeds star.

Their interest in Hardaker comes despite them already having New South Wales fullback Matt Moylan on their roster, whose contract runs out in 2017.

Penrith are currently 11th in the NRL, two points outside the top eight.