Wigan Warriors' star signing Zak Hardaker pleads guilty to drink driving

Wigan Warriors' Zak Hardaker has pleaded guilty to drink driving.

Thursday, 11th October 2018, 2:31 pm
Updated Friday, 12th October 2018, 1:16 pm
Zak Hardaker leaving court

The 26-year-old Wigan Warriors full-back, from Pontefract, West Yorkshire, was charged with the offences on September 26.

Prosecutors told Leeds Magistrates' Court on Thursday that he attempted to avoid police officers by taking his car down a cul-de-sac along Knottingly Road, Pontefract, and running away on foot.

The court heard how, when officers later visited his home, the rugby league player claimed not to have been the driver and said that the Ford Fiesta involved was not his car.

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Zak Hardaker leaving court

His reading was more than twice the drink drive limit, and he told officers he had two gins and six pints.

When breathalysed, Hardaker gave a reading of 74 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath - the legal limit being 35.

District Judge Paul Currer, sentencing, told the defendant: "You indulged in stupidity in asserting that you were not the driver and that it was not your car."

He added that the offence, which took place at 12.15am on September 26, was aggravated by the fact that Hardaker had a passenger with him.

Zak Hardaker training with the England squad

The full-back, who was listed on court documents as Zak Dakin, was given a 20-month ban from driving and a £1,810 fine.

Nick Hammond, defending, told how the conviction could have a "devastating effect" on the sportsman's career, adding that the initial attempt to run away was a "very amateurish attempt to avoid the attentions of the police".

At the time, his club said in a statement: "The player is co-operating with the police investigation. Wigan Warriors will allow the legal process to take its course."

Hardaker, who is currently serving a 14-month ban from rugby for cocaine use, signed for Wigan in May.

He was thrown out of England's World Cup squad in 2013 for a breach of discipline and in 2015 agreed to pay £200 in compensation and write a letter of apology to a 22-year-old man under a "community resolution" after admitting assault.

He has not played for the Warriors as he is serving a ban for failing a doping test on the eve of last year's Grand Final. He only began training with Wigan last month, in accordance with UK Anti-Doping rules.

A former England international, the former Leeds and Penrith back has won the Steve Prescott Man of Steel and was also shortlisted for the coveted award just days before he was handed a ban for taking cocaine.

But his career has been littered with off-field dramas. He was thrown out of the 2013 World Cup for breaking a drinking curfew and was sent on an anger management course by previous club Leeds after he beat up a student. He was also banned for homophobic abuse before being slapped with a 14-month ban for taking cocaine.

His latest episode will inevitably spark speculation about whether his Wigan future is over before it has really begun.

The club's rugby director, Kris Radlinski, said he did not plan to make a comment until next week.