Wigan Warriors' Zak Hardaker plots a career in coaching

Zak Hardaker is eyeing a coaching career.
Zak Hardaker spoke to team-mate Oliver GildartZak Hardaker spoke to team-mate Oliver Gildart
Zak Hardaker spoke to team-mate Oliver Gildart

At 28, the Great Britain centre should have several years left in his playing career.

But he is also beginning to plan the next stage of his life and wants to stay involved in the sport when he hangs up his boots - after ruling out studying for a degree.

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In a wide-ranging interview on Oliver Gildart's Offload podcast, Hardaker revealed: "I was going to do a sports degree, I went to a two and a half hour class and it bamboozled me - i don't think I'm that kind of guy.

"I know after playing my job will either be in rugby or something physical. Study is not for me.

"I love rugby league and though I'm not super brainy, in rugby I'm quite knowledgeable.

"I'm not saying I'm going to be a head coach but whether it's a backs coach or defence coach, maybe.

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"I feel at 28 I'm trying to be a leader in training, it's something traditionally quite easy to do and something I'd be good at. It'd be a waste if I didn't."

Hardaker candidly spoke about the 'shattering' experience of discovering he had failed a doping test just days before Castleford's maiden Grand Final appearance in 2017.

The former Man of Steel had taken cocaine, and been tested, a few weeks earlier but - given the time-lapse - thought he had escaped.

He has spoken candidly about the episode before but, speaking to Gildart, cast more detail on the depths of despair he was in.

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"I thought I was safe," he said. "Then on the Thursday (morning) I heard my mum screaming, like I'd never heard her.

"At first I thought something had happened to her dog, but it was (Cas' coach) Daryl Powell on the phone saying the RFL had called, and I'd failed a drugs test.

"My world shattered.

"I thought I'd got away with it by the skin of my teeth. The Grand Final was in two days... I remember I jumped in the car, my mum was scared to death."

Asked whether she thought he would do something stupid, Hardaker continued: "Yeah, and if I'm going to be honest, mate, there were parts of me that thought I was going to do the same. I drove to a canal, and sat on the end, feet over the top, and thought, 'what happens if I jump in?' I was thinking of something to swallow me up."

He went away and admitted drinking a "bottle of whiskey on my own, every night" before he began putting his life back together.