Zak Hardaker gets ready to link-up with Wigan Warriors

Zak Hardaker shares a joke with Dr Chris Brookes as they watch a Wigan game last season
Zak Hardaker shares a joke with Dr Chris Brookes as they watch a Wigan game last season

Zak Hardaker realises he “can’t afford to waste” his Wigan chance as he underdoes alcohol rehabilitation treatment.

Executive director Kris Radlinski confirmed that Hardaker would report for pre-season training in the first week of December.

The former Man of Steel’s 14-month cocaine ban ran out on November 7 but he is currently at the Sporting Chance clinic after being convicted of drink-driving.

“He’s had a couple of weeks there,” Radlinksi said. “I went to see him last week and he looks great himself. He realises this is an opportunity that he can’t afford to waste.

“It’s not going to be an easy process but it’s one we as a club are committed to helping him through.”

Meanwhile, new Wigan head coach Adrian Lam has spoken of his intention to add a spark to the Super League champions’ attack in 2019 and has identified a couple of areas he wants to strengthen.

The Warriors will begin their title defence without full-back Sam Tomkins and forwards John Bateman and Ryan Sutton from their Grand Final-winning team - around 800 games worth of experience according to Lam, the former Papua New Guinea player and coach who spent four seasons at Wigan from 2001.

The club have brought in former England full-back Hardaker and Barrow prop Joe Bullock, while Joe Greenwood was signed in mid-season as the replacement for Bateman.

But executive director Kris Radlinksi has confirmed money is available for team strengthening and Lam, speaking at a media lunch at the DW Stadium, said his priorities are middle or back row forward and potentially an extra half-back.

Lam, 48, who has succeeded Shaun Wane on a 12-month contract pending the arrival of Shaun Edwards in 2020, admits it would be “madness” to make wholesale changes but says there is room for improvement to the team’s attack.

“You can’t do much better than win the Grand Final so to come and change everything would be madness but if it means tinkling a little bit with the attack, which is my strength, we’ll do that,” said Lam in a break during his first full week of training.

“I’ll be getting closer to George Williams and Thomas Leuluai in an attacking aspect. I watched them last year and I think it’s an area they can improve.

“I think George will love me being here. There’s no doubt Wigan won the Grand Final on the back of resilience in defence so if we can maintain that and improve our attack, that’s what we will do.”