Ex-Rovers star Hardaker welcomes Bennett’s appointment

Former Featherstone player Zak Hardaker.

Former Featherstone player Zak Hardaker.

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Former Featherstone Rovers star Zak Hardaker has welcomed the appointment of new England RL head coach Wayne Bennett.

The 24-year-old England full-back collected the Man of Steel award in 2015 after helping Super League champions Leeds Rhinos to a treble of domestic honours.

Australian coach Wayne Bennett was named as the successor to England coach Steve McNamara this week and Pontefract-born Hardaker says the Queenslander can only benefit the game in this country.

Former Carleton High School pupil and ex-Featherstone Lions and Knottingley Rockware player Hardaker said, “Listening to the reaction since the announcement there has been some mixed opinions with people hoping for an English coach for the England team.

“Whilst I can understand those thoughts, I can see that the chance to get someone of the experience and calibre of Wayne Bennett would be too hard to turn down. If the England football team had the option of appointing Jose Mourinho or Pep Guardiola, who would not make them the next England manager.

“There is lots we can learn off Wayne Bennett, he knows the Australians and New Zealanders inside out so that will help. Hopefully he can have an English assistant who can learn from him to leave a legacy after his time in charge.

“His appointment can only be beneficial for the game here and a new regime will be good for England.”

Hardaker will be hoping to retain the number one shirt he gained last season in the series win over World Champions New Zealand ahead of this Autumn’s Four Nations when the Kiwis are joined by Australia and Scotland especially with the carrot of a World Cup Down Under in 2017.

Hardaker added, “I can’t wait for the Four Nations. To represent your country is a massive honour and I enjoyed every game in the Test series last year. It was tough but I enjoyed it. I want to perform better this year than I did last year and if I can play well for Leeds Rhinos and can get picked by Wayne Bennett and his coaching team, hopefully I can keep hold of that number one shirt. I am confident in my own abilities and, if I achieve my goals, hopefully I will be England full back again in 2016.”