Zak Hardaker: More than meets the eye

A lot has been said in the aftermath of Zak Hardaker’s drugs ban.

Some of the comments have been fair, but some have been somewhat inaccurate.

Hardaker received a 14-month suspension.

History tells us this is a lenient punishment, and Rangi Chase has made his feelings quite apparent after receiving a 24-month suspension for the same offence.

But there are a few things which need to be straightened out here.

Is Hardaker foolish for what he did? Yes.

Has he made more than his fair share of mistakes? Yes.

Does that make Hardaker a bad person? Not at all.

Members of the press are in an often privileged position, communicating with players first hand and spending plenty of time talking to them.

Now nobody at this publication will try to tell you they’re best friends with Hardaker, but here are a few anecdotes they have brought up.

One of our reporters spoke of the time Hardaker joined Castleford.

In his first press conference, most of the sport’s national reporters were in attendance, meaning that by the time we went to print, all of the content would have already been used.

Hardaker was more than happy to do a one-on-one interview with our reporter, and happily spoke to him for 30 minutes.

Another memory brought up was the night Castleford won the League Leaders’ Shield.

While most of his team-mates were free to celebrate, Hardaker was asked by almost every media outlet if he could be interviewed. Not once did he decline.

Other stories include the time he did an interview while on holiday and another where he spoke to one of our reporters on a Saturday afternoon the day after he had played as we searched for a story.

It’s evident from reading the transcript of Hardaker’s hearing that he has many issues that he has had to deal with away from the rugby field.

His decision to deal with one of them the way he did in September was stupid and something he will have to live with for the remainder of his career and also his life.

And yes, it’s impossible to even begin condoning his actions given his own privilege of earning a great deal of money as a professional sportsman.

But you’ll struggle to find anyone who hasn’t been ashamed of something they’ve done in their life.

Fortunately for most of us, it doesn’t get picked apart in the national spotlight, or bring our reputation into disrepute.

Buy League Express today for a piece on Zak Hardaker’s next club in 2019.