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|Full name||Zak Alexander Hardaker|
|Born||17 October 1991|
|Height||191 cm (6 ft 3 in)|
|Weight||93 kg (14 st 9 lb)|
|Position||Fullback, Centre, Wing|
As of 18 May 2018
Zak Alexander Hardaker (born 17 October 1991) is an English professional rugby league footballer who will play for Wigan Warriors in the Super League following the expiry of a 14-month ban for failing a drug test. Hardaker previously played for the Featherstone Rovers in the Championship, Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers in the Super League and the Penrith Panthers in the National Rugby League. His preferred position is fullback, but he can also play at centre and on the wing. An England international representative, Hardaker has won two Challenge Cups and three Super League championships with Leeds. Individually he has been named to the Super League Dream Team on two occasions, and was the 2015 Man of Steel.
Hardaker was suspended from playing for failing a drugs test after taking cocaine in 2017 and has been suspended from playing since then. As a result of the drugs suspension, his contract with Castleford was terminated on 21 February 2018. On 30 April 2018 UK Anti-Doping announced that Hardaker is banned from all sports for 14 months, backdated to the date of the original failed drugs test and suspension on 8 September 2017. Hardaker will be able to resume playing on 8 November 2018.
Hardaker joined Featherstone Rovers from the local amateur side Featherstone Lions after leaving school at Carleton High School in Pontefract. He previously played for his hometown club Knottingley Rockware before signing pro terms with Featherstone Rovers.
He scored a hat-trick of tries on his 2010 début for Featherstone Rovers against Hunslet, and went on to score 22 tries in 14 games in all competitions in his début season. This included two tries in Rovers' extra-time 23–22 Co-operative Grand Final defeat by Halifax.
Hardaker signed for Leeds Rhinos in October 2010 for a transfer fee of around £60,000 and was awarded the number 27 jersey. He trained with the Rhinos senior squad during pre-season & made two appearances in pre-season friendlies, before returning to Rovers on a dual contract for the 2011 season. He made 5 further appearances for Featherstone, scoring 5 tries.
In March 2011, due to injuries to Leeds wingers Ben Jones-Bishop & Lee Smith, Hardaker was called back to the club & made his Super League début against St. Helens at Headingley. Hardaker scored a try in Leeds' 30–16 loss. Hardaker then featured sporadically for Leeds throughout the season; arguably his best match was in the playoff game against Huddersfield Giants, in which he scored a hat-trick and picked up the man of the match award in a 34–28 victory. He also scored the final try in the 2011 Super League Grand Final as Leeds defeated St. Helens 32–16 at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Hardaker was handed the number 4 jersey for the 2012 season, taking over from long-time servant Keith Senior. However, following injury to Brent Webb, he moved to fullback for the latter half of the season and showed excellent form as Leeds successfully defended their Super League title. Hardaker was awarded the 2012 Super League Young Player of the Year for his form.
Hardaker was part of the Rhinos squad that won the 2014 Challenge Cup, and he earned his first selection in the Super League Dream Team at the end of the season. His form also saw him earn a recall to the England squad for the 2014 Four Nations, however, he did not feature in the tournament.
Hardaker's form continued in 2015 and he was part of the Rhinos squad that won the 2015 Challenge Cup. At the end of the season, he was named Man of Steel, the first Leeds player to win the award since Iestyn Harris in 1998.
In June 2016, Hardaker requested a transfer from Leeds following the Rhinos' poor form which saw them sitting bottom of the league table.
Penrith Panthers (loan)
He débuted for the Panthers in Round 17 against the West Tigers in the Panthers 26-34 loss. Three weeks later, he scored his first career NRL try in Round 19 in the Panthers 31-12 win over the Brisbane Broncos. Zak played with Penrith all the way to the Semi-Finals where the Panthers 2016 NRL season ended. He finished off his maiden year in the NRL playing in 11 games for the Penrith Panthers (including 2 finals games), scoring 1 try and assisting 3 others.
On 8 November 2016, it was announced that he had signed a one-year loan deal to play for Castleford Tigers, with a deal in place for Castleford to sign him for an "already agreed fee" should all parties agree to it at the end of his loan agreement. At the end of the Warrington Wolves v Castleford Tigers match on the 24 February 2017, Zak donated his man of the match cheque to the Prince of Wales Hospice in Pontefract.
On 27 June 2017, it was announced that he had joined Castleford on a permanent basis, signing a four-and-a-half-year contract with the club. A transfer fee of £150,000 was agreed between all parties.
His contract was terminated by Castleford on 21 February 2018 following his suspension in September 2017 for drug offences.
Hardaker was named in England's squad for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, however, he was later forced to withdraw from the squad for personal reasons mid-tournament.
In 2015, Zak made his first appearance for England since the 2012 Autumn International Series. He appeared for England in a test match against France where the English went on to destroy the away team. He was also selected for the test series against New Zealand which started a week later.
- Super League (3): 2011, 2012, 2015
- World Club Challenge (1): 2012
- League Leader's Shield (2): 2015, 2017
- Challenge Cup (2): 2014, 2015
- Baskerville Shield (1): 2015
In November 2013, Hardaker withdrew from the England squad during the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, citing personal reasons. He was later handed a £2,500 fine and a written warning by his club Leeds Rhinos after he "acted unprofessionally" prior to his withdrawal from the squad.
In June 2014, Hardaker received a five-match ban and a £300 fine for making homophobic comments which appeared to be directed towards referee James Child. Hardaker issued a public apology for the incident, claiming the insult had been directed towards Warrington Wolves player Michael Monaghan rather than the referee.
In March 2015, Hardaker and Leeds teammate Elliot Minchella were detained and questioned by police over the alleged assault of a 22-year-old student, causing Hardaker to miss his side's 18–6 defeat by Warrington Wolves. Hardaker did not face criminal charges, but admitted to the assault and agreed to pay £200 compensation and write a letter of apology to the victim. He was also once again subject to internal disciplinary action by his club.
In October 2017, Hardaker was omitted from Castleford Tigers squad for the 2017 Super League Grand Final against former club Leeds. Castleford issued a statement saying that Hardaker had been left out for an unspecified "breach of club rules". On 9 October 2017, Castleford released a statement confirming Hardaker had received a suspension after testing positive for a banned substance. It was also announced that Hardaker would not be selected for the England squad for the 2017 World Cup after testing positive for cocaine.
In September 2018, Hardaker was arrested for allegedly drink driving, driving without insurance, and without a valid MOT. He is due to appear in court in October 2018. 
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