Zak Hardaker back on board at Wigan Warriors... and here's why Adrian Lam is excited
Zak Hardaker has returned to training with Wigan '“ and Adrian Lam has been impressed with him.
The former Castleford full-back was given extra time off while he received treatment for his relationship with alcohol.
But he has now linked-up with his team-mates in training and Lam has seen enough to convince him the 27-year-old can make a big impact in his side in 2019.
He said: “You can see here on the training pitch, he’s a natural footballer, with the ball in hand he’s skilful, he’s a strong runner, and he knows what to do in certain situations.
“He’s a big body, as a footballer it’s good to have that size there.
“He’s only just come back in so it’ll take him a couple of weeks to get into the rhythm but everyone is excited about what he can bring.”
Wigan signed Hardaker earlier this year while he was serving a 14-month suspension from the sport for taking cocaine.
He was allowed to start training with his new employers at the back-end of last season, only to create another controversy when he was arrested for drinking driving.
The Warriors kept faith with him as he began a process of ‘professional and personal rehabilitation’ with the Sporting Chance clinic.
“He looks happy – we’re here to support him,” said Lam.
“We realise it’s an ongoing thing but we’re in it for the long-haul and what’s been the most impressive thing has been the way the players have welcomed him back with open arms.
“They’ve been kept in the picture and they’ve been very supportive of him, and I think that’s made him feel more at home.”
Former Steve Prescott Man of Steel winner Hardaker, who has also played for Featherstone, Leeds and NRL outfit Penrith, is set to take the goal-kicking role in 2019.
The arrival of Australian halfback Jarrod Sammut from London Broncos has given Lam another kicking option.
Sammut, 31, has kicked at many of his previous clubs and says he would be comfortable with the role, which Sam Tomkins – now at Catalans – held last year.
Lam says he will speak to both players but indicated Hardaker will start with the tee.
“Zak wants to do it, but we’ll need two or three players who can kick and we’ll work with them all,” he said.
Former British Lion Charlie Hodgson is set to continue his role as a part-time goal-kicking consultant.