Adrian Lam delighted to see ‘machine’ Zak Hardaker back in action

Wigan coach Adrian Lam said he was really pleased to see Zak Hardaker take to the field for the first time in 16 months.

Hardaker played his first game since September 2017 on Sunday after serving a ban for taking cocaine while playing for Castleford Tigers.

The 27-year-old scored a try and kicked four goals from five attempts to help the Warriors beat Salford Red Devils in a pre-season friendly on Sunday.

On Hardaker’s return, Lam said: “I was really pleased for Zak.

“It was going to be a bag of mixed goodies for him because he has been out for a little while, but he has trained really well. It’s always different when you are in that battle ground and I’m pleased for him.

“If you see him, he’s a big boy. He’s 6’4 and 105kg, so he’s just a machine. He could fill that centre position pretty well and I just wanted to see how he handled that.

“I gave Morgan [Escare] an opportunity to play at full-back as well, so it was a good opportunity for both of the players.”

Lam admitted that he wanted to see some of his fringe players in action and picked out one in particular who stood out – new signing Joe Bullock.

He added: “The result wasn’t the priority, but I just wanted to have a look some of the fringe players and let some of the new faces blow cobwebs out.

“We had an opportunity to watch some of the boys on Friday [against London Skolars] as well, so some of them doubled up.

“I think Joe Bullock was pretty good, so he probably impressed me the most out of everyone and I will get a feel on the rest of the squad now and see where they fit in the puzzle.

“There’s probably two or three positions still up for grabs [in the 17-man squad], so we’ll discuss it over the next fortnight.”

Lam revealed that Sean O’Loughlin just wasn’t risked in the game, while Tommy Leuluai served a suspension that he picked up after last year’s Super League Grand Final triumph.

Zak Hardaker spoke to the press after his long-awaited return, read the full interview here.

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