The Morning After: Hardaker milestone, prop McMeeken & winless Leeds

Drew Darbyshire
Mitchell Pearce and Mike McMeeken Catalans Dragons SWpix

Photo: Allan McKenzie / SWpix

The Morning After looks at three talking points from the latest Super League action.

Prop McMeeken

Catalans Dragons were low on numbers in the forward pack for last night’s match at Leeds. Props Gil Dudson and Dylan Napa were suspended, whilst Julian Bousquet (arm) and Mickael Goudemand (concussion) were also ruled out.

With Steve McNamara’s pack depleted, back-rower McMeeken put his hand up to play in the front-row. He excelled against the Rhinos as he helped the Dragons win 10-4 at Headingley.

On McMeeken, McNamara said: “Mike said he’d play prop and he was unreal. His performance was top drawer for a person who has not played that position.”

McMeeken has not played for England since the 2017 World Cup. Could he make Shaun Wane’s side this year?

PRAISE: Steve McNamara on standout duo & “pathetic” Mitchell Pearce sin bin

Leeds’ winless start

The Rhinos have not had the start to the new Super League season they would’ve hoped for.

Richard Agar’s side have lost all three of their games so far, but they’ve had one of the hardest starts out of anyone. They’ve had to play Warrington, Wigan and Catalans.

The Rhinos recruited impressively over the off-season, bringing the likes of Aidan Sezer, Blake Austin, James Bentley and David Fusitu’a to the club. They showed signs of promise in the Channel 4 opener against Warrington, but they’ve been underwhelming the last two weeks.

Leeds travel to Wakefield next Thursday. This is a massive game for Agar’s men. They need to get points on the board.

Hardaker joins 300 club

Zak Hardaker Wigan Warriors

Zak Hardaker made his 300th career appearance last night as he helped Wigan beat Huddersfield 22-12 at the DW Stadium.

It is a fantastic achievement for Hardaker, who has become one of the most versatile backs in the game. It must be pleasing for a coach knowing he can play Hardaker at wing, centre or full-back and he will be comfortable in all three.

Hardaker’s appearances in numbers – Wigan 74, Castleford 30, Penrith Panthers 11, Leeds 155, Featherstone 19, Great Britain 2, England 8, England Knights 1.

The 30-year-old former Man of Steel is tremendous talent, a player who makes you get off your seat. He will be hoping to play in his second World Cup this autumn.

PLAY: Our free Fantasy Rugby League competition is back for 2022