Great Britain Rugby League Lions 2019: Zak Hardaker ready to make most of 'surprise' selection

Zak Hardaker
Zak Hardaker scored 11 tries in 27 Super League appearances in his first season at Wigan Warriors

Zak Hardaker will do whatever job is asked of him to fulfil the honour of playing for Great Britain after his "surprise" tour selection.

The 28-year-old had been expecting to watch the forthcoming Test series in New Zealand from a family holiday as he thought his chance of making the trip had gone.

Wigan full-back Hardaker has been on the road to redemption in the past season, not only with his performances in a Warriors shirt, but in rebuilding his life off the pitch.

The 2015 Man of Steel served a 14-month ban in 2017-18 after testing positive for cocaine while playing for Castleford Tigers before receiving a drink-driving conviction just over a year ago.

"I've just really enjoyed this year and been really fixated on me, my family and Wigan," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"The trust that's been given in both directions has been huge and the performances on the pitch have led to that."

Despite not being able to guide Wigan to a Super League Grand Final, Hardaker's 11 tries in 27 appearances kept him firmly on the Lions selectors radar, even though he only rated his performances as "an eight out of 10".

Now he finds himself potentially in line for a Great Britain debut in their tour opener against Tonga in Waikato on Saturday.

"It (selection) did come as a surprise as I'd not been involved in the set up all year," Hardaker said. "I wanted to put in 10 out of 10 performances from the get-go, but it didn't work out that way.

"I think it took me a bit longer to get into the rhythm than I would've liked. I'd come to terms that I wasn't in the squad and I was happy with my performances for Wigan.

"I was looking forward to a tough pre-season and the next year ahead, so to get the call to come here is a massive added bonus and I'm just really looking forward to grabbing it with both hands.

The five-times capped England international added: "I'd be happy to play any position really. To just represent Great Britain is a massive achievement.

"Where that will be - I'm not bothered to be fair. I've played centre under Wayne Bennett before and everyone knows I can play centre, wing or full-back."

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