Leeds Rhinos full-back Zak Hardaker has revealed he has been given no indication as to when the investigation over an alleged homophobic comment will be concluded – but has called on those involved to come to a speedy resolution, regardless of the result.
It has now been over two weeks since the alleged incident during Leeds’ loss to St Helens, with no decision yet to be made over whether Hardaker will face any sort of punishment – or indeed a charge. And the England international believes it is not helping anyone that the decision over whether to charge him has taken so long, and has said that he is keen to hear an outcome sooner, rather than later.
“If they’re going to do something about it then they should have known in the first week or two in my opinion, and dealt with it there and then,” Hardaker said.
“Why they’re letting it drag on for almost three weeks is silly. If they had evidence of something happening then surely they should have done it two weeks ago. I’ve got to prepare every week for a tough game – especially now with the play-offs – and I’ve got this hanging over me one way or the other.
“I’ve been given no indication of what’s happening or if I’m going to be at Red Hall – or even if the case as been dropped. As far as I’m concerned I know as much as you guys regarding it.
“The longer it’s going on I just think why are they doing it? It’s getting to me and it’s getting to my family; when people boo you every time you get the ball it isn’t helpful. I’d just like to know really what the decision is – the sooner the better.”
Hardaker revealed that he and Saints’ Mark Flanagan have both been asked for their side of the story, and also admitted the storm surrounding the incident has affected him – both on and off the field.
“I got investigated; I told them my point of view and they’ve asked Mark Flanagan for his point of view – and I’ve not heard anything back since. It’s getting on for nearly three weeks now, and I’ve not really heard much.
“I really struggled the first couple of days after it happened; I was a bit depressed and got a bit down with myself. I’ve had a few conversations with various people though, and I’ve just got to try and crack on with playing,” he added.
“At that moment in time I was just thinking I wanted to be out of the spotlight, get in my bedroom and lock the door. Three or four days after the incident that happened, it was out in the news that I said this and said that – when nobody really knew what had happened. People already had made their own assumptions up and I was getting grief from the media and the general public, and it did get me down a little bit.”
Hardaker was speaking after his first ever inclusion in the Super League Dream Team, after being selected by a panel of journalists and broadcasters as the best full-back in Super League in 2014. He admits the accolade has given him a lift despite the ongoing investigation, and says it was a target he set himself all the way back in pre-season.
“It was a little goal I set to myself at the start of the year when Sam Tomkins left for the NRL. I’m massively honoured and incredibly honoured to have been selected for the Dream Team,” he said.
“It has been a bit difficult, but we’ve got an important few weeks coming up now – and this Dream Team inclusion really has cheered me up and got me ready for the back end of the year.”