Leeds Rhinos centre Zak Hardaker admitted to having mixed emotions after losing the Grand Final to St Helens.
Hardaker seemed to be at a crossroads in his career when his relationship with the Wigan Warriors broke down and he was dropped for disciplinary reasons.
That ended up paving the way for a return to Headingley, where he previously spent six seasons and won three Grand Finals, one World Club Challenge, two Challenge Cups and a League Leaders Shield.
Hardaker was delighted to be at Old Trafford, but he admits the defeat will weigh around his neck for a while.
“If you said to me when I first returned to Leeds that I would be in a Grand Final I would have taken it all day,” said Hardaker.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t win and I have mixed emotions about it. I am obviously sad that we lost, but on the flip side I am proud of where we have been and where we finished.”
Hardaker admitted that when Konrad Hurrell crossed over in the second half Leeds’ confidence dipped a little and that allowed St Helens to gain momentum.
“The start of the first half hurt us,” added Hardaker.
“We weathered the storm and we come back with our try, and they were struggling. If we could have done that again in the first 15 minutes of the second half, it could have been different, but they got another try and that put their confidence up and knocked ours.”
Hardaker was coy about his immediate future, with his contract now set to expire.
“I will just rest up now. I’ll have a few weeks off and spend time with my kids and see where we go from here.”
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