Wigan stand by Zak Hardaker

Wigan are to provide support to full-back Zak Hardaker following his recent drink-driving charge.

Hardaker, 27, is to undergo a programme of professional and personal rehabilitation with the Sporting Chance Clinic and will be monitored by the club.

He will then enter a daily programme that will include volunteer work, work experience, mentoring days and wellbeing meetings with the club’s Player Welfare Manager, former Scotland coach Steve McCormack.

In a statement, Wigan chairman Ian Lenegan said: “Firstly, I’d like to make clear that we are extremely disappointed with Zak’s actions on the evening of the 26th September.

“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. We realise there is no guarantee that this will happen – but – regardless of the outcome – we feel this professional and responsible approach is the only way forward for someone so obviously showing the signs of a man in need of some serious help.

“Let me be clear – Zak fully understands that he is employed on our terms and under strict conditions. He knows he has a lot of making up to do. In what should have been a special week for the Club, we could have been distracted by the actions of a player who has yet to pull on our jersey. But he has showed genuine remorse and is determined to repay the faith that we are showing him.”

Hardaker only began training with Wigan last month as he serves a ban due to cocaine use.

He said: “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. I’d like to thank Ian Lenagan, Kris Radlinski and the Wigan Club for supporting me through this and I will do everything I can to repay their faith in me. My sole focus now is confronting the issues that have stopped me becoming the player and person I’d like to be.”

Hardaker has been plagued by problems throughout his career, including being sent home from the 2013 World Cup, making homophobic comments during a match and assaulting a student in 2015.