Wane: Hardaker is a fantastic player... and a fantastic character

Zak Hardaker was sacked by Castleford
Zak Hardaker was sacked by Castleford

Shaun Wane has admitted he would be interested in recruiting Zak Hardaker - describing him as a “fantastic player.”

And he says his suspension from Castleford for taking cocaine would not deter trying to get him on board if he is available.

Wigan have been strongly linked with a move for the 26-year-old, who has been sacked by the Tigers but is waiting to discover what punishment he may face from UK Anti-Doping.

Speaking at his weekly press conference, Wane said: “He’s a fantastic player, Zak. Any player that comes up of his calibre we’d be interested in.

“But I’ve not heard anything at all - I don’t look after that, it’s down to Ian (Lenagan) and Rads (Kris Radlinski). I admire him a lot but I like a lot of players in Super League and the NRL.”

Hardaker, who can play centre or full-back and was shortlisted for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel last year, apologised for his “enormous error of judgement” after he was suspended ahead of the Grand Final.

Wane has previously spoken about the importance of his players being good people, and thinks Hardaker could fit the bill.

“I don’t know the details of what he’s done,” he said. “I know him as a person, I’ve met him, he’s a fantastic character.

“If he has made an error, he’s made an error and he needs to deal with it. At this moment he’s not a Wigan player.

“I just know him as a person and I found him a very good person.”

Wigan have money available after the departure of Frank-Paul Nuuausala this week.

Castleford coach Daryl Powell revealed yesterday Hardaker’s contract had been terminated.

“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.”

A spokesman for UKAD said it does not reveal, in advance, when hearings are being held.

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