Zak Hardaker in Great Britain squad for New Zealand and Papua New Guinea tour
Zak Hardaker took another major step towards redemption If he Had Been Appointed to Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.
The Leeds and Castleford full-back, that was not at either of the England or Great Britain operation squads declared by coach Wayne Bennett, had been the surprise inclusion in his 24-man party.
As expected, Bennett has picked all 3 players that are eligible via the grandparent principle and also have shown their desire to play for their adopted country in the coming Test suits against New Zealand, Tonga and Papua New Guinea.
Theyre full-back Lachlan Coote (St Helens) and half-backs Blake Austin (Warrington) and Jackson Hastings (Salford), that had been short-listed to its Man of Steel award won by Hastings following hugely-impressive first complete seasons in Super League.
Coote has represented Scotland and Great Britains return has paved the way for Ireland global Joe Philbin, the Warrington forward, to force his way into but there is no Welsh participation after St Helens ahead Morgan Knowles has been ruled out through injury.
Saints captain James Roby is another injury absentee while his clubs Grand Final win over Salford arrived at a significant price, with centre Mark Percival (rib) and winger Tom Makinson (shoulder) sustaining injuries that cost them places in the group.
Bennett stated:It was pretty tough really, with lots of players in contention. A couple of men got thats taken a bit of the strain off and injured and given a couple of guys chances.
I think weve got a pretty good squad which is greater than agent of the best players in the sport from England and Australia.
With a plethora of full-back options, the flexibility of Hardaker clearly helped him get the nod before Sam Tomkins, who is among those players on stand-by from the England squad in Sydney.
Paradoxically, Hardaker, who turns 28 was the man picked by Wigan to replace Tomkins 12 weeks ago because he set off to the path to redemption.
If he had been strangled Man of Steel in 2015 hardaker was the best player in Super League but his frailty was exposed two years earlier when he had been thrown from Englands World Cup squad for a violation of discipline.
Released by Leeds after testing positive for cocaine, he seemed to have got his career back on track if he played a important part in Castlefords conduct to a maiden Grand Final in 2017 but had been suspended.
Hardaker was given a lifeline by Wigan to be arrested for drink-driving during training after having a 14-month ban.
After he consented to undergo rehab that included a visit to the Sporting Chance clinic But, his new team stood by him and he was arguably his finest and definitely most consistent player in 2019.
As expected, former St Helens prop James Graham has been made by Bennett as captain in the absence of Sean OLoughlin and Sam Burgess.
Bennett stated:No-one plays with more pride and enthusiasm than he does because of his country, I will inform you.
Graham, 34, is the sole member of the group with previous experience of playing for Great Britain, with won five caps out of 2006-7, and with a list 44 England appearances, is place to deliver up a half-century of caps against Tonga at Hamilton on October 26.
Its very emotional for me, said Graham, who will lead Great Britain for the first time after previously captaining England. It will have a history and heritage and it is something that resounds with the fans and our game.
They will be four incredibly hard matches however, the problem score was always going to be high. It is a challenge for usas a team I think were going to grow in that challenge
Great Britain squad for the tour to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea
J Graham (St George Illawarra, capt), B Austin (Warrington), J Bateman (Canberra), T Burgess (South Sydney), D Clark (Warrington), J Connor (Hull FC), L Coote (St Helens), O Gildart (Wigan), Z Hardaker (Wigan), J Hastings (Salford), R Hall (Sydney Roosters), C Hill (Warrington), J Hodgson (Canberra), J Hughes (Warrington), J Jones (Salford), J Lomax (St Helens), J McGillvary (Huddersfield), J Philbin (Warrington), L Thompson (St Helens), J Trueman (Castleford), A Walmsley (St Helens), E Whitehead (Canberra), G Widdop (St George Illawarra), G Williams (Wigan).
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