‘Mr Cool’ Zak Hardaker can help Leeds to semi-final triumph over Wigan, says Rohan Smith
ZAK Hardaker can be Leeds’ Mr Cool to help them to a Grand Final over the club that let him go for straying out of line.
The back is no stranger to controversy and Wigan released him earlier this season.
Listen to the Warriors and his deal was torn up after he failed to learn from his own off-field errors and indiscipline.
But Hardaker, back in his native West Yorkshire, is adamant he had, ‘not done too much at Wigan. The right people know what has and hasn’t happened.’
Now as he heads back to the Warriors with an Old Trafford place on the line, boss Rohan Smith feels he has the temperament to handle the huge occasion as he only speaks as he finds.
He said: “Zak and I had a lengthy phone conversation. The club was down the path of bringing him back before my appointment.
“He felt like a good guy who really wanted to play for the Rhinos again and since I’ve been here, he’s been great around the venue.
“He’s contributed well, whether he’s played at full back or centre – he played a game the other week on the wing too. I treat each person as I meet them.
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“Zak’s a calm, composed character these days. All I know is how he is at the moment and he’s got a very calm temperament, he just enjoys playing.”
Smith hopes to back up his own finals success – technically, he is still Queensland Cup champion after winning last year’s Grand Final with Norths Devils.
And he may be able to do it with England hopeful Mikolaj Oledzki, who suffered a shoulder problem in the win over Catalans, and hamstring victim Harry Newman.
He added: “He’s touch and go but we’ll have to see how things settle. He’s a tough kid and will certainly want to play. He’s not ruled out yet, though.
“Harry’s a possibility for Friday, rather than a probability, but he could play this week.
“There’s nothing set in stone and it’s an accelerated rehab. He’s ahead of schedule but he’s still got work to do.
“If he can accelerate the steps through his rehab, he’ll play when he’s available.”