Wigan chairman Ian Lenegan says he would have no hesitation making Zak Hardaker a marquee player.
The Warriors currently have just one marquee player, George Williams, but Lenegan believes the former Man of Steel is like a marquee signing.
Hardaker, who was sacked by Castleford due to failing a drugs test, played in Wigan’s pre-season friendly against Salford, scoring a try and kicking four goals.
Lenagan said: “I think whilst there are certain difficulties associated with him, I’d have Zak Hardaker as a marquee player anytime, he just doesn’t fit within the financial parameters.”
And the Yorkshire man has impressed his team-mates, including England stand-off George Williams, who turned down approaches from the NRL to commit his future to Wigan last year.
Williams said: “Hardaker’s quality is unquestionable, he’s such a good lad. He’s had a real tough time but he’s 100% got mine and all of the lads backing.
“You can see in training how good he is and me and him have been building up a few good combinations so look out for them.”
Centre Oliver Gildart is another who has praised the full-back, saying he has been one of the stand out performers in training.
Gildart said: “He’s impressed me; I knew how good he was anyway but it’s different playing against someone to then training with them.
“It’s the little things in his game that as fans you don’t really pick up on but since he’s been back in he’s been excellent.”
Having lost Sam Tomkins, John Bateman and Ryan Sutton to big moves elsewhere in the off-season, Warriors rugby director Kris Radlinski also provided some insight in to the impact of Hardaker on the club’s wage bill.
Radlinski said: “He may not be a marquee player but he’s actually more on the salary cap than Sam [Tomkins] was because of the home grown dispensation.
“I think in the middle of the year also it was great news for the club that we retained Oliver Gildart, at some point that salary kicks in which it will do in 2019.
“Also a big signing for us was Joe Greenwood, we didn’t pay his full salary at that point but then this kicks in in 2019 so although the marquee signings aren’t there, there’s still been significant improvements in salaries.”