'Zak Hardaker has been flying' ahead of first Wigan Warriors appearance

Zak Hardaker is set to play for Wigan at Salford tomorrow
Zak Hardaker is set to play for Wigan at Salford tomorrow

Zak Hardaker may have been out of the game for more than a year but he is already “on the money” as he eyes a return to action tomorrow.

The former Castleford full-back will make his first appearance for Wigan – and play his first match since being banned for doping in September 2017 – in tomorrow’s friendly at Salford. And team-mate Liam Farrell is excited about seeing him play.

He said: “We did an opposed session against Leigh last week and he was right on the money. He’s one of the best I’ve seen under the high ball and his attacking ability could give us some strike – one-on-one with a defender, he’s always going to beat them.

“He’s had some tough times but I do genuinely think he’s over them and ready for a big year.”

Team-mate Sam Powell agreed.

"To think Zak has not been involved in the game in a year, he's been flying," he said. Hardaker will also start with the goal-kicking responsibilities in a strong Wigan line-up.

New coach Adrian Lam has challenged his fringe players to catch his eye ahead of the Super League opener at St Helens on January 31, and it’s a message which has been heard loud and clear.

“Some of the older lads, they’re going to play (in round one) no matter happens,” said winger Liam Marshall, vying for a spot with Dom Manfredi and Tom Davies.

“But for us wingers – and the young lads – it’s about showing what we can do against Super League opposition. We want to say, ‘This is what we can do Lammy’.”