NRL: James Hooper speaks to Mark Geyer about the inaugral Penrith Panthers hall of fame induction.
ZAK Hardaker — the latest Pom to test himself in the NRL — has been likened to St George Illawarra superstar Josh Dugan.
Former Wests Tigers’ favourite Keith Galloway told The Saturday Telegraph his Leeds teammate was a star talent, whose ability to bust out of tackles reminded him a lot of Dugan.
Hardaker, the 2015 Man of Steel — the Super League’s equivalent of the Dally M — will begin training with the Panthers next week.
He has signed with Penrith until the end of the season.
After he informed Leeds officials of his desire to play in the NRL, the club slapped a whopping 300,000 pound transfer fee on him.
The Panthers picked him on a loan, with Leeds acquiring Panthers’ rake James Segeyaro in return.
A fullback who can also slot on to the wing and play in the centres, Hardaker is sure to prove an immediate Panthers’ fan favourite if he can be half as good as English countrymen Sam Burgess and James Graham.
“He’s a really strong player, a great fella who is tough,’’ Galloway said from Leeds.
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“He throws his body into everything and I think he’ll do well.
“He’s pretty hard to tackle, he’s got strength where he can wriggle out of a tackle. He’s probably a bit like Josh Dugan where he looks like he’s going to be tackled, only for his strength to make him keep going.
“He’s not a carbon copy of Dugan. Zak is his own player.
“His defensive game is unreal. Good on him for having a crack.’’
Galloway was happy for Hardaker to head to the other side of the globe, especially at only 24 years of age.
Given injuries to Penrith international centres Dean Whare and Peta Hiku, Hardaker might not have to wait long to debut for the Panthers. He is sure to lean plenty from skipper and No. 1 Matt Moylan.