Hardaker insists he did not insult Child

Zak Hardaker has apologised for his abusive behaviour during Leeds Rhinos recent clash with Warrington.

During that game, Hardaker used homophobic language, which he maintains was addressed at Warrington’s Michael Monaghan.

An independent tribunal handed Hardaker a five-game ban, after they found that his remarks were addressed at match referee James Child.

The player has now issued an offical statement via his club saying sorry for the offence caused by his comments,

“Firstly, I would like to once again say sorry for any offence my comments during the Warrington game have caused,” Hardaker said.

“I maintain that I did not say the remark to referee James Child however I know that I made a mistake and it does not matter who I directed the comment at, as it still causes offence to those who saw or heard it.

“I will accept the findings of the disciplinary panel and will look to put this experience to good use in terms of my professional and personal development.

“I would also like to thank all those who have shown faith in me and offered to help me, in particular Martin Owens from the Canalsiders amateur club, and hopefully the issues raised in this case will make everyone, players, officials and supporters alike more aware of the harm their words can cause.”

Leeds coach Brian McDermott was pleased that the player had recognised that his behaviour was totally out of line.

“We welcome the fact that Zak has recognised his mistake and we will work with him to make sure that this type of incident does not happen again in the future,” said the coach.

“As a club and a game, we have always prided ourselves on how inclusive and welcoming our sport is and this incident, and the reaction to it, shows how seriously we all take this matter. We were pleased that the panel made a particular point of saying that they did not believe that Zak had meant his comment as a homophobic remark and that they considered that Zak was not homophobic.

“The club has worked hard to raise the issue of anti-homophobia in the past and we remain committed to working against all forms of discrimination.”

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