Zak Hardaker facing ban after being charged with head butting Sam Tomkins

Zak Hardaker is facing a two-game ban for head butting Sam Tomkins.

Monday, 31st May 2021, 3:00 pm
Zak Hardaker

The Wigan full-back has been charged with a Grade C offence by the RFL's match review panel for the offence, which saw him red-carded with a minute to go of Saturday's 48-0 thrashing at Catalans.

Ex-Warrior Joel Tomkins, who was sinbinned for retaliating with a flurry of punches, has been given the more serious Grade D charge and will appear before Tuesday's disciplinary panel (operational rules tribunal) to learn his fate.

Hardaker's suspension will come into force unless he appeals - and is successful - though any 'frivolous' appeals are often met with a harsher punishment.

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A two-game ban will see the England international miss matches against Huddersfield next Friday and their return to the DW Stadium against Hull KR the following week.

And his absence will be a huge blow for Wigan, given they are already without two other frontline full-backs.

Jai Field, who can operate in the role, and regular No.1 Bevan French are both sidelined long-term with hamstring injuries.

Coach Adrian Lam, who has dealt with a crippling injury crisis in the backline this year, may now turn to teenager Umyla Hanley to plug the full-back role until Hardaker returns.

Hanley's handful of first-team appearances this year have all been on the wing, but full-back is his preferred position.

Lam's only other option would be to play another back in the full-back role.

The head coach described Hardaker's dismissal as a "nightmare".

"We're already short in terms of outside backs," he said after the game.

"So for that to happen, it's probably the most disappointing aspect of the game."

There were no other charges from Saturday's game which surrender from top spot, though they are still level on points, and win percentage, with St Helens and Catalans.