How Zak Hardaker can help Wigan Warriors' title push

Zak Hardaker resumes training after a doping ban today. SW Pix
Zak Hardaker resumes training after a doping ban today. SW Pix

Zak Hardaker has been tipped to provide a boost to Wigan’s title campaign – even though he won’t be able to play.

The full-back links up with his new club from today.

The former Leeds and Castleford No.1’s doping suspension runs until November.

But under UK Anti-Doping rules, he can resume training two months earlier - and captain Sean O’Loughlin is looking forward to welcoming him on board.

“Even though he’s not involved playing-wise, he’ll definitely bring something to training,” said O’Loughlin, who knows Hardaker from the England scene.

“He’ll be excited about getting back around lads and training.

“When you’ve been in an environment like this for so long, a sporting environment, to have that taken away from you leaves a big void.

“He’ll be buzzing to get back involved and keeping himself busy, that’ll probably bring something to us.

“His excitement and energy will bring something to sessions which will only benefit us.”

Hardaker – a direct-replacement for Sam Tomkins – is only 26 and as a former Man of Steel, few doubt his abilities.

But his capture was not universally welcomed by Wigan fans, given his previous off-field dramas – the last of which saw him banned for 14-months for taking cocaine. O’Loughlin suggested his rap-sheet paints an unfair picture of the Yorkshireman, who also played at Featherstone and NRL outfit Penrith.

“He’s a good character, off the pitch he’s a good lad to be around and on it, some of the boys will learn a lot from him,” he said.

“Wherever he’s played, whether it’s full-back, centre or in the halves, his games have been good.

“He’ll be a good asset to the side and a good player to have around the place.”