Leeds win fight for Hardaker

Leeds have fought off competition from several Super League clubs to sign highly-rated Featherstone youngster Zak Hardaker.

Hardaker, 19, who can play on the wing, at full back or at stand off, moves to Headingley on a five-year deal, although he will spend the 2011 season back on loan at Post Office Road after the two clubs agreed an undisclosed fee.

Named joint Championship Young Player of the Year (shared with Batley’s Gareth Moore), Hardaker was a prolific try scorer as Featherstone finished top of the league table, before suffering a heartbreaking extra time defeat to Halifax in the Grand Final, where Hardaker scored two tries.

Chief Executive Gary Hetherington said: “Zak is one of the best and most exciting young talents in our game and has the potential to play at the highest level. This signing is one for the future and has been funded from the fee received from Canterbury Bulldogs for Greg Eastwood.”

Pontefract-born Hardaker joined Featherstone from local amateur side Featherstone Lions, the same club that produced Rhinos star Rob Burrow, and he scored 22 tries this season in just 14 games. He announced his arrival with a hat trick against Hunslet on his debut and never looked back last season.

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