England’s young gun sets his sights high
Zak Hardaker will crown a spectacular season on Saturday when he makes his England debut against Wales in the Autumn International Series at Wrexham (2.30pm).
The 2012 Super League Young Player of the Year is relishing the chance to make his impact on the national team and stake his claim for inclusion in England’s Rugby League World Cup 2013 plans with a strong performance at the Glyndwr University Racecourse Ground.
“It will be a very proud moment for both me and my family,” said Hardaker. “It’s been a tremendous year: I played at Wembley, won my second Grand Final, picked up the Young Player of the Year award, went to South Africa and am now making my England debut.
“It really is the icing on the cake.
“I’ve had two great years in Super League and achieved quite a lot in a short amount of time. I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.”
The Leeds Rhinos full-back and his England team-mates face both Wales and France in the Autumn Internationals over the next two weeks having returned from their high altitude training camp in South Africa, where strong bonds were formed throughout the squad.
“We’ve been training hard and we all really enjoyed the camp in South Africa,” he said. “All the lads get on really well and we can’t wait for the upcoming games.
“You play against these guys throughout the year and try and put some points past them but as soon as you come to England training that’s all forgotten: you’re all England players fighting for the same cause.
“We’ve got a lot of competition for places in the team, you’ve got to train hard and play well and there’s plenty of young lads trying to break into the squad which will result in better quality players in the future.
“The games against Wales and France are going to be tough, we know what we need to do and we will be focused on the challenge. We want to do really well this year so that we can head into a World Cup year feeling positive.
“We know that the England fans always show great support and I’m sure they will cheer us on this Saturday and fill MS3 Craven Park next week.
“The game against Wales on Saturday can’t come soon enough, representing your country is the highest honour you can be given and I can’t wait to put my boots on and make my debut.”
Tickets for the 2012 Autumn International Series fixtures, Wales v England at the Glyndwr University Racecourse Ground, Wrexham, on Saturday October 27 cost from £15 (£7.50 concessions) and can be purchased by calling 01978 294404 or by visiting firstname.lastname@example.org
Tickets for England v France, at MS3 Craven Park on Saturday November 11 and the final of the 2012 Autumn International Series at Salford City Stadium on Sunday November 11 cost just £12 for adults and £6 concessions and can be purchased by calling the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 856 1113 or by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk