Wigan to stand by Hardaker in wake of drink-driving conviction

Zak Hardaker.
Zak Hardaker.
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Former Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers full-back Zak Hardaker will not be sacked by Wigan Warriors following his drink driving conviction last week.

The 27-year-old was banned from driving for 20 months and fined £1,810 after admitting to being twice over the drink-drive limit at Leeds Magistrates' Court.

Hardaker at Leeds Magistrates' Court last week.

Hardaker at Leeds Magistrates' Court last week.

But in a statement released this afternoon, Wigan have confirmed that they will stand by the full-back who is currently serving a 14-month ban for cocaine use.

Hardaker will instead undergo a period of rehabilitation to address his "relationship with alcohol."

He will also enter a daily programme that will include volunteer work, work experience, mentoring days and wellbeing meetings with Wigan’s Player Welfare Manager, Steve McCormack.

Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan has condemned the 2015 Man of Steel's actions but says that the Warriors have a "duty" to help Hardaker through his rebab process.

"Firstly, I’d like to make clear that we are extremely disappointed with Zak’s actions on the evening of September 26," said Lenagan.

"Drink driving is completely unacceptable, and we are pleased the matter has been dealt with by the courts so firmly. Nonetheless, we have thought long and hard about what the correct thing to do is for Wigan.

“It would be easy for us to cut our losses with Zak and deny him the opportunity to play for Wigan but we are not going to do that.

"Our duty of care as employers is to help Zak address the fundamental problems that he has had for some time - issues that we believe could and should have been confronted already."

"Zak will enter a residential facility in the coming weeks and how he commits during this course will not only define his rugby career but potentially set him on a more productive path for the rest of his life."

Hardaker added: “I’d like to wholeheartedly apologise for my actions. The first thing I need to accept is that I have a problem and I’ll be throwing all my efforts into sorting that out."