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England a chance for World Cup: Hardaker

Press Association logoPress Association 1/03/2017

Former Penrith Panther Zak Hardaker believes England are a chance of ending their 45-year rugby league World Cup drought after watching local teams dominate the recent World Club Series.

The former Man of Steel finished the 2016 season on loan with the NRL club after losing his way at Leeds, but is hoping a move to Castleford can help him win back his England jersey in time for the end-of-year World Cup in Australia.

He feels England can win rugby league's showpiece event in December after watching Wigan and Warrington beat Cronulla Sharks and Brisbane Broncos respectively in the recent World Club Series.

"I went to the Wolves game and it was great to see Super League teams beating the Aussies," he said. "When I was in Penrith, it was just all about Australia and England's a bit of a downgrade, that's how they see it.

"Those wins were great for the English game and gives England players a lot of confidence to say 'if we can do that at club level, surely if we do this training throughout the year and come together, we can do it against the national team as well'."

Hardaker made 11 appearances for Penrith but did not get enough game time for the liking of England coach Wayne Bennett, who left him out of his Four Nations squad.

He suffered more disappointment when the proposed pre-season training camp in Dubai for which he was chosen was cancelled, but he was all smiles when he attended the first get-together of Bennett's Elite Performance Squad in Manchester this week.

"It's really good," said Hardaker, who was England's full-back for the Test series triumph over New Zealand in 2015.

"I've been in and out of it for the last few years so to see some familiar faces is always good and to get away from the club and into a different environment is pretty good."

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