Wigan coach Adrian Lam has insisted controversial fullback Zak Hardaker has his full support – admitting it is the Warriors’ responsibility to help him through his issues as he prepares to return to training next month.
Hardaker is currently in a Sporting Chance rehabilitation clinic after being charged with drink driving earlier this year, just days after beginning training with the Super League champions ahead of beginning a deal with them next season.
That left some people doubting whether Wigan would end Hardaker’s career with the club before it had begun, but Lam – who will visit Hardaker in the clinic over the next fortnight – has promised they will stand by him.
“As coach of Wigan Warriors, I believe that better people make better players,” Lam explained. “It’s our responsibility to help him get through what he has to get through, and make him achieve what he needs to do in life as a priority, rather than a rugby league player.
“We’ve got to get through that process with him and he knows we’re here supporting that.”
Lam also insisted that Hardaker’s latest off-field misdemeanour has not weakened his enthusiasm to begin working with the fullback on the training field when he returns to training in December.
“There’s no doubt that on the field, once he gets going, he’ll be so beneficial for the side it’ll be unreal,” Lam insisted.
“I’m looking forward to working with him because I believe I can help him in that area as well. In the next two weekends I’ll go and see him.
“I’ve talked to him a few times and he’s excited, and he knows his importance to us and the importance of making sure he’s okay himself. And he can kick goals, and he wants to kick goals. He’s made it very clear he wants that responsibility, which is great for us because it shows that he’s invested in the side and he’s confident.”
When asked if this truly was Hardaker’s last chance to forge a long-standing career in the game, Lam replied: “We all have our own issues in life, and he’s aware he was behind this.
“He understood his position and his situation, and it will be ongoing this work – it just doesn’t get fixed overnight. But we’re here for him and he knows that, it’s important for him that Wigan are supporting him through this period.
“Whether it’s his last chance or not, his priority for us is that he gets it right with life.”