Zak Hardaker’s bid for redemption was complete on Monday night when he was named Super League’s Man of Steel.
The Leeds fullback was rewarded for the scintillating play that has put the Rhinos in sight of the treble when he scooped the big prize at the awards night in Manchester.
The 23-year-old was adjudged by his fellow players to be the man to have made the biggest impact on Super League XX.
Former dual-code international Iestyn Harris was the last Rhinos player to be crowned Man of Steel in 1998.
In a notable double for the Leeds club, who have already won the Challenge Cup and the league leaders’ shield, Brian McDermott was named coach of the year, while Wigan stand-off George Williams was unveiled as Super League’s young player of the year.
Hardaker topped the poll of players ahead of his Rhinos teammate Adam Cuthbertson and St Helens prop Adam Walmsley, the other members of the Steve Prescott Man of Steel shortlist, and completes a major turnaround in fortunes.
Earlier this year he was sent by his club on an anger management course, fined and ordered to do 20 hours a week voluntary work after admitting assaulting a student in February.
Last season Hardaker received a five-match ban from the Rugby Football League for a homophobic comment and two years ago he was fined STG2,500 ($A5,350) and issued with a warning by Leeds for a breach of the club’s players’ code of conduct.
That followed his expulsion from the England squad during the 2013 World Cup when he failed to add to the cap he won against Wales in 2012.
Hardaker, who has insisted he’s a changed character, was also a non-playing member of coach Steve McNamara’s squad at the 2014 Four Nations Series down under.
He now looks certain to face New Zealand in the three-match series in November after putting pressure on Sam Tomkins for the No.1 jersey with a series of impressive displays for his club.
The former Featherstone player, who joined the Rhinos in 2011 and signed a new four-year contract in July, was last week named in the 2015 Super League Dream Team and on Saturday will aim for a third Super League ring when Leeds meet Wigan at Old Trafford.
McDermott says he is expecting his fullback to rise to the occasion on Saturday but warns he has yet to completely fill the boots of his predecessor Brent Webb.