Wigan Warriors confirm Zak Hardaker signing on four-year deal
Last Updated: 18/05/18 1:02pm
Wigan Warriors have confirmed the signing of England international Zak Hardaker on a four-year deal.
The 2015 Super League Man of Steel is serving a 14-month ban imposed by UK Anti-Doping after testing positive for cocaine.
The suspension was confirmed in April but back-dated to September 2017, when he took the test.
Hardaker was sacked by Castleford Tigers in February but will officially join Wigan on November 8. However, the 26-year-old will commence training with the Warriors two months earlier.
Wigan chairman Ian Lenaghan said: "This wasn't a decision that we made lightly. We recognise the serious nature of this incident and our choice in offering this opportunity should not be seen as condoning his actions in any way.
"We had extensive conversations with Zak and his family before making our offer. We encountered a man who, after eight months of reflection, openly admits that he has made a series of significantly poor decisions over the past few years.
"Crucially, we also saw someone who recognises that this is the final opportunity to focus on delivering the achievements his talent should generate."
Hardaker won three Super League Grand Finals and two Challenge Cups with Leeds Rhinos and was named Super League Young Player of the Year in 2012.
He had loan spells with Penrith Panthers and Castleford before joining the Tigers on a permanent deal in June 2017.
He was left out of the Tigers' Grand Final squad in October 2017 to face former club Leeds after the adverse drugs test came to light.
Hardaker is a direct replacement for Sam Tomkins, who is joining Catalans Dragons at the end of the season.
Wigan head coach Shaun Wane said: "Zak is an outstanding competitor and a hugely talented individual who will understand the culture at our club.
"He is the opposition name who, when we preview his team, is always the main danger. Now he is one on our team and that is pleasing for everyone involved.
"His early return to training will assist his transition back into the sport but he will not be available to play in the 2018 Super League season."