English contingent excited by Hardaker's arrival
The Penrith Panthers have announced the signing of English fullback Zak Hardaker for the rest of the 2016 season, while James Segeyaro will head to the Leeds Rhinos in the UK Super League.
Hardaker joins the NRL as one of the most decorated players in the UK having been named Man of Steel in 2015 after leading Leeds to success in the Challenge Cup as well as the First Utility Super League Grand Final.
Before he had even signed with the Panthers, current English players in the NRL described the 24-year-old as a great talent who would be well suited to the Australian style of play.
While Englishmen Joe Burgess and Greg Eden recently decided to head back to the UK after short stints in the NRL, Bulldogs skipper James Graham said he was confident Hardaker would make a good fist of it in Australia.
"Zak's a great character and more importantly he's a quality rugby league player," Graham told media on Tuesday morning.
"I've been fortunate enough to be friends and teammates with him for a number of years now.
"There are a few boys who have decided to head back to England and Zak's one of those young lads that has verbalised that he wants to come over here and test himself in this league. Hopefully he gets the opportunity to do that."
Rabbitohs prop Tom Burgess also spoke highly of his international teammate, comparing him to another English fullback who recently featured in the NRL.
"He's a great player. He killed it in 2015…I think he got Man of Steel," Burgess said.
"I played with Zak a few times now and he's in the backfield, a similar style to Sam Tomkins. The more English players that come out here, it's only good for our national team."
Panthers Executive General Manager Phil Gould AM said Hardaker's arrival would bolster a Penrith backline that has been ravaged by injuries in 2016.
"This is truly exciting for the Panthers to have a current English international joining the club for the remainder of the 2016 season," Gould said.
"Zak is an outstanding footballer. With long-term injuries to our Kiwi international centres Dean Whare and Peta Hiku, Zak's arrival at the club is very timely indeed.
"Zak wants to prove himself in the NRL competition and may well consider a longer stint in Australia if all goes well. It will be a fantastic experience for Zak and for the Panthers".
Hardaker is expected to begin training with the club ahead of their Round 17 clash with the West Tigers, while Segeyaro has been granted an immediate release to link up with the UK club.