Hardaker a free agent as speculation linking him with Wigan grows

Zak Hardaker can play centre or full-back
Zak Hardaker can play centre or full-back

Speculation linking Zak Hardaker with a move to Wigan took an intriguing twist today when Castleford confirmed he had been sacked.

The development was revealed hours after the Warriors confirmed the departure of Kiwi prop Frank-Paul Nuuausala.

Hardaker was suspended in the build-up to last October’s Grand Final after he tested positive for taking cocaine.

Rumours he could be on his way to Wigan have been simmering for days, though it appeared there were two stumbling blocks - his four-year deal with Castleford, and the uncertainty over what ban he may serve.

Today, Powell revealed Hardaker’s contract had been terminated for breach of contract - which would appear to remove one of those obstacles.

“He’s not under contract with us because he was sacked, having done what he’d done,” said Powell.

“I’ve got no comment on that but I don’t know why clubs would be talking to him at this point because they haven’t even decided what ban he’s going to get.

“I’ve no comment.”

Wigan have not said whether they are interested in Hardaker, regardless of the outcome of the player’s hearing.

Coach Shaun Wane is expected to be asked about the 26-year-old at his weekly press conference tomorrow.

A spokesman for UK anti-doping said it does not reveal, in advance, when hearings are being held.

But it is not unusual for these episodes to drag on. Rangi Chase, for example, was initially suspended last August for a failed test but didn’t receive a back-dated ban until November.

Athletes who take cocaine, in competition, usually receive two-year suspensions.

Hardaker can play centre or full-back and was short-listed for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel last season.