Adrian Lam hopes Zak Hardaker’s past hasn’t counted against him after the Wigan full-back was left out of the Great Britain training squad.
The former Leeds and Castleford ace has revived his career with the Warriors this season, following a doping suspension and then a drink-driving conviction.
Yet despite his strong form, he was left out of a provisional 29-man panel for the Lions tour next month.
Lam “totally” thought Hardaker warranted selection and, asked whether historic off-field issues may have been a factor in the decision, the Wigan coach replied: “I hope not.
“I don’t know what they’ve talked about, but he’s been one of our best and I think one of Super League’s best this season – and I think his best is to come.
“It’s their opinion, but I don’t think it’s right that Zak is not in that group at all.
“When you look at the rest of the squad... I think he should be there, without a doubt.”
As well as Hardaker’s omission, Lam was also surprised forward Liam Farrell was overlooked.
National coach Wayne Bennett – who had Lam as his assistant coach at St George-Illawarra – and selectors Paul Sculthorpe, Paul Wellens, Paul Anderson, Danny Ward and Ian Watson picked a squad of 29 Super League-based players.
And with Bennett saying there is still time for players to force their way into the frame, Lam hopes both may be on the trip Down Under later this year.
“I’m sure they’ll sort it out by the end of the year, you’d hope so,” said Lam.
“They’ve been two of the best players in Super League over the back-end of the season so... I’m sure the selectors will get that right when it counts. I hope they include both Zak and Faz at the end of the year.”
Wigan trio Sean O’Loughlin, George Williams and Oliver Gildart were included.