Hardaker closes door on Rhinos after Castleford switch

Zak Hardaker has admitted he is unlikely to revive his Leeds Rhinos career after joining Super League rivals Castleford Tigers on loan.

Hardaker has penned a season-long deal at The Jungle, which could be made into a permanent move at the end of the season.

The 2015 Man of Steel left Leeds for a temporary stint with NRL franchise Penrith Panthers earlier in the year as the Rhinos struggled badly to replicate their treble-winning feats last season.

And the England full-back hopes a season under the tutelage of Daryl Powell - who helped launch his career at Featherstone Rovers - could help him recapture his best form.

When asked if he was finished with Leeds, Hardaker told Omnisport: "I think that's more or less it now. 

"When I was in Australia, I felt I wasn't really a Leeds player and when I came back, it felt more or less the same, so both parties were a bit like: 'He's not been here...' 

"I think we were both on the same wavelength so it was just an opportunity for me to come somewhere else and achieve something with a different team and hopefully we can do that."

Hardaker believes he can recapture his best form with Cas after a stop-start 2016 cost him a place in England's Four Nations squad and he has also backed the Tigers to make a breakthrough having finished fourth, fifth and sixth in the past three seasons.

He added: "Being at Leeds, you played Castleford... I reckon the early years, 2012, you'd probably beat Castleford more often than not, but towards the back-end I think Cas beat us more than we beat them. 

"So it just shows you what a turnaround Cas have had in the last couple of years and what impact Daryl has had on the team. 

"The optimism and the hunger that kicks in around the club, you can feel it when you're around it. It's pretty big so I'm hoping to have a big year and if I could achieve what I did with Leeds at Cas then that would be fantastic, but it takes a lot of hard work."

Hardaker will not return to Headingley until round 19 of the 2017 Super League season, but is relishing going head-to-head with his old team-mates.

"It will be massive, yeah," he said. 

"I've not really thought about that actually. I've just thought about playing them here [at The Jungle] and at Newcastle on [Magic Weekend]. 

"Playing in front of the [Headingley] South Stand, probably getting shouted at rather than shouted for, is going to be a big difference but the atmosphere will be fantastic.

"Pulling on that Cas jersey, I just want Cas to win so hopefully we can do the business there."

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