Leeds Rhinos: We won’t sweep Hardaker affair “under the carpet” – McDermott

Zak Hardaker.
Zak Hardaker.
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Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott insists the Rhinos will not sweep the Zak Hardaker affair “under the carpet”.

Hardaker and Leeds team-mate Elliot Minchella were on Monday released without charge after helping police with their investigation into an assault on a student in Leeds on February 3.

It emerged that the players were freed after agreeing to pay £200 compensation and issuing a written apology under a “community resolution”.

However, McDermott told a media briefing at Headingley this morning that the club were continuing with their own investigation and that they are taking the matter very seriously.

“We’re not trying to hide anything,” McDermott said.

“As soon as we were made aware of the pictures that were on the Yorkshire Evening Post website, we actually rang the police themselves. We were keen to make sure that he helped the police in everything they needed to do. He did that and now we conduct our own investigation.

“We’re not trying to get this done and dusted and close the door. What’s happened is a big thing, a big thing for us and a big thing for the kid who was on the other end of it.

“We made that phone call straight away and then phoned Zak. We don’t view this as a bit of a blip, it’s a big thing for us.”

Hardaker played in the Rhinos’ opening four matches of the season but made way for teenage full-back Ashton Golding in the 18-6 defeat by Warrington last Friday.

Now the the 23-year-old England international could be set for a recall when Wigan visit Headingley tomorrow, although he is likely to face additional punishment from his club.

Hardaker was fined £2,500 and given a warning by Leeds for breaching their code of conduct after being thrown out of England’s World Cup squad in 2013 for misconduct.

He also served a five-match ban imposed by the Rugby Football League last June after being found guilty of making homophobic comments to referee James Child during a game at Warrington.

“I’m disappointed,” said McDermott. “It’s something you don’t want to have to deal with. For Zak himself. If anybody’s let down, he’s let himself down.

“It’s ongoing for us. The matter with the police isn’t getting taken any further but we’ve got a bit to deal with Zak as it stands.

“Whether Zak plays or not this week, it doesn’t mean everything is alright. He could have a stormer this week but it doesn’t mean everything is all right.

“What he’s done is made an error and it’s another error and we’re aware of Zak’s record. We need to make sure that he’s aware of that. There’s a process to go through. It’s just not one conversation. We’re going to look at a few things.”

McDermott said he would decide later today whether to bring Hardaker back against Wigan and is hoping he will be in the right frame of mind.

“You’d have to ask Zak,” McDermott added. “He’s said the right things.

“All he wants to do is play but life is not that simple. He didn’t want to miss last week but it was the right thing to do, for him and for us and for the student who was involved in this. We haven’t over-looked that issue either.”

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