Wigan Warriors: Zak Hardaker says parenthood has changed the dynamics of his life as he prepares to make his 300th career appearance

Zak Hardaker says becoming a father for the first time has changed some of the dynamics of his life as he prepares to make his 300th career appearance.

The Wigan Warriors fullback admits parenthood has impacted how he views things as a rugby player.

Since the birth of his son in 2020, Hardaker has been taking it all in his stride.

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He said: “It’s weird the dynamic of being a father, and the challenges that brings. I played rugby league for myself at first, then I did it for my mum and my stepdad who travelled the length of the country taking me to games.

Zak Hardaker is set to make his 300th career appearance

“Then you get a partner and a son, and they become the pinnacle of what you do. Your way of thinking definitely changes, but it’s been welcoming, and it’s been good.

“I’m trying to keep him away from rugby, I’ll steer him towards football or golf, anything that pays loads of money to look after me when I retire.

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“He’s left footed, so he’s not taken after me in that department.

“He’s a lively character and is great to be around. When I’ve been getting home, he’s been full of energy.”

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There were conversations about Hardaker’s future at Wigan towards the end of last year, with the 30-year-old keen on being closer to his family.

“It’s no secret, my partner and my son moved back to Yorkshire,” he added.

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“She got comfortable back at home, being near her family and my family, and it made things a lot easier.

“On the flip side, I was still working and living in Wigan. With my little boy it was a tricky situation where I didn’t want to be away from him. I wanted to be with him as much as I could.

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“There were conversations with Wigan, where I told them straight about it all. Rugby is up there but I want my partner and my little boy to be happy and healthy. I’ve another one on the way in July too.

“I spoke to Matty Peet and Shaun Wane at the backend of last year, and they asked for my commitment for this season, and I said: ‘Look, I’m committed, 110 per cent.’

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“After those conversations all the boxes were ticked and both parties left happy. I’m really happy to be at Wigan.

“It was a weird situation that I’ve never found myself in before. We crossed that bridge, and everything has been really good.

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“I’ve promised my commitment, I’m renting somewhere in Wigan, so I’ll be here for training, and then I’ll spend my days off at home with my family.

“I’m more than happy to do that. I want to achieve something at this club, I want some proper silverware.

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“It’s a really good environment to be in at the club. The boys are able to voice their views to the leadership group, who are talking to the coaches.

“Matty said it’s about trust, we are building a culture that’s not just player based and much bigger than rugby league.

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“It’s the best it’s been since I’ve been at Wigan.

“We want to keep turning up for each other, playing well, and enjoying each other’s company.”

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