Comment: What next for Zak after act of stupidity?

Zak Hardaker has been convicted, fined and banned from driving.

Thursday, 11th October 2018, 4:46 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th October 2018, 5:58 pm
Zak Hardaker

But a big question still looms over his drink-driving episode: What next for his playing future?

Will the Warriors axe him before he has even played a game? Or will he get another second chance?

The ex-England full-back's solicitor admits it was "not certain" whether he would stay or go.

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Some fans have already pointed out on social media that when Wigan signed the ex-Castleford and Leeds star, chairman Ian Lenagan mentioned the words "final opportunity".

And so they may expect him to be sacked.

But Lenagan actually spoke about "offering contrite individuals the final opportunity and environment to learn from their mistakes. My team at Wigan will manage, mentor and test him through this period of rehabilitation and development and, hopefully, guide him back to being one of the best players in Super League.”

And Wigan may - may - take the view that they have not yet had the chance to mentor him, rehabilitate him, develop him. Guide him.

The terms of Hardaker's doping ban prevented him from linking-up with his new club until a month ago and, as far as I know, he'd attended a handful of training sessions and two games before he was stopped by police on September 26.

He hasn't moved over from Yorkshire, yet, to start a new life at Wigan.

Will he now get that chance? We'll have to wait and see.

Whatever they do, whatever your view, everyone seems to be in agreement in condemning what he did.

"A grave error of judgement," his solicitor described it as. He's not wrong.

At any time, it would have been an act of stupidity.

To do it at a time when you're trying to salvage a dazzling, but derailed, career simply beggars belief.

The player's own agent, Craig Harrison, has publicly pleaded with him to quit alcohol during the season - something else which, I imagine, will be discussed now the legal case has been dealt with.

Wigan have taken tough stances on off-field controversies in the past - most recently fining Joel Tomkins for a drunken rant which led to the forward resigning, and joining Hull KR.

Club officials are unlikely to make a decision on Hardaker until next week.

There is no urgency to rush to make a call and - of course - they have the considerable matter of the Grand Final to focus on.

Mentioning the Grand Final, there are parallels between this saga and what happened a year ago, when Hardaker's ban for taking cocaine was revealed on the eve of the Old Trafford title-decider.

But there is one significant, smack-you-in-the-face obvious, difference; he was a key component in Castleford's success in 2017, but he hasn't played for Wigan.And so it's unlikely this controversy will be a distraction from the Warriors' preparations for Saturday's match - even though it has been a bloody nose for the Warriors, and the sport.