Zak Hardaker to join Castleford on initial loan deal from Leeds
Last Updated: 08/11/16 11:43am
Zak Hardaker is to join Castleford on loan from Leeds next season, after the two clubs agreed an undisclosed loan fee for the full-back.
The 2015 Man of Steel spent the final three months of last season on loan at Australian club Penrith Panthers in the NRL, and was placed on the transfer list at £300,000 by the Rhinos in the summer.
The 25-year-old England international was keen to remain in Super League next term and has now agreed to join the Tigers for the 2017 campaign.
Leeds will have no recall provision and Hardaker, who had also been reportedly linked with Huddersfield and Salford, will be free to play against the Rhinos when the two sides meet.
Castleford also have the option to complete a full transfer from November 2017 for an undisclosed fee already agreed by both clubs.
Hardaker signed for the Rhinos in 2011 - he remains contracted to the end of the 2019 season - from Featherstone Rovers and has gone onto make 155 appearances, scoring 67 tries and 45 goals.
Tigers head coach Daryl Powell, said: "I am delighted that Zak has decided to sign for the Tigers. Two years ago he was the Man of Steel and there is no doubt he is an outstanding rugby league player.
"His flexibility in playing a number of positions in the back line will clearly enhance what is already a very talented squad and add quality and competition.
"I have worked with Zak in the past and look forward to seeing him enhance his own reputation as a rugby league player and get back into the England team as a Castleford Tigers player."
Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington, said: "I would like thank Steve Gill and the Castleford Tigers for how they worked with us on this arrangement. Zak leaves us this season with our best wishes."
Castleford, who have already signed a new full-back in Greg Eden, freed-up space for the arrival of Hardaker on Monday by allowing centre Ben Crooks to join Leigh on loan for 2017.
Hardaker, who can also play on the wing and at centre, was England's full-back throughout last year's autumn internationals but was left out of Wayne Bennett's squad for the current Four Nations series following his disrupted season.