Wigan Warriors have broken their silence on the Zak Hardaker drink-drive saga.
Their big-name recruit was convicted in court last Thursday but the Super League club delayed making a comment on the issue until after the Grand Final.
Now, eight days later, they have issued a statement and said the former England full-back – who turned 27 on Wednesday – will stay at the club for 2019 and undergo a period of treatment for his relationship with alcohol.
Hardaker will immediately begin a process of professional and personal rehabilitation with the Sporting Chance Clinic and will also be monitored closely by the club before entering a daily programme that will include volunteer work, work experience, mentoring days and wellbeing meetings with club’s Player Welfare Manager, Steve McCormack.
Related: Hardaker: I’m so sorry
Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan said: “Firstly, I’d like to make clear that we are extremely disappointed with Zak’s actions on the evening of September 26.
“Drink driving is completely unacceptable, and we are pleased the matter has been dealt with by the courts so firmly. Nonetheless, we have thought long and hard about what the correct thing to do is for Wigan.
“It would be easy for us to cut our losses with Zak and deny him the opportunity to play for Wigan but we are not going to do that. Our duty of care as employers is to help Zak address the fundamental problems that he has had for some time - issues that we believe could and should have been confronted already.
“Zak will enter a residential facility in the coming weeks and how he commits during this course will not only define his rugby career but potentially set him on a more productive path for the rest of his life. We realise there is no guarantee that this will happen - but - regardless of the outcome - we feel this professional and responsible approach is the only way forward for someone so obviously showing the signs of a man in need of some serious help.
“Let me be clear - Zak fully understands that he is employed on our terms and under strict conditions. He knows he has a lot of making up to do. In what should have been a special week for the Club, we could have been distracted by the actions of a player who has yet to pull on our jersey. But he has showed genuine remorse and is determined to repay the faith that we are showing him.”
Hardaker was signed by Wigan in May while serving a doping suspension, having taken cocaine while at previous club Castleford.
The club will be making no further comment.