Castleford Tigers open dialogue with Hardaker as disgraced England star awaits cocaine judgement

CASTLEFORD TIGERS head coach Daryl Powell has revealed he is in talks with Zak Hardaker over whether the disgraced full-back still has a future with the League Leaders' Shield winners.

Disgraced England star Zak Hardaker in action for Castleford Tigers. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Hardaker, 26, has been provisionally suspended from the sport since October 9 after testing positive for cocaine.

The controversial England international – who made the shortlist for Man of Steel after a sensational debut season at Wheldon Road – could be banned for two years, although there has been no ruling yet from UK Anti-Doping.

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Castleford dropped Hardaker for their maiden Grand Final appearance against Leeds Rhinos and suspended him after discovering about his failed test just two days before the Old Trafford loss.

Castleford Tigers' Zak Hardaker, during the 2017 Betfred Super League Grand Final press conference at Old Trafford, Manchester. (Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

After being provisionally banned by the RFL – and left out of England’s World Cup squad – he apologised via a club statement for his “enormous error of judgment” having not only jeopardised his own career but caused chaos ahead of the West Yorkshire club’s biggest game in decades.

However, since then, there has been no further development as all parties await UKAD’s judgement. Powell told The Yorkshire Post that he had a meeting with Hardaker earlier this week and will continue those talks before the weekend.

Asked if there was anything that could be said about Hardaker’s future, Powell said: “I have had a quick chat with Zak.

“I need to have another chat with him which I’ll try to do at some point this week.

Castleford Tigers' Zak Hardaker, during the 2017 Betfred Super League Grand Final press conference at Old Trafford, Manchester. (Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

“But I can’t (say what will happen).

“We don’t really know what it (potential ban) is going to be at the moment so we’ll wait and see what it’s going to be in the fullness of time.

“Then, both Zak and ourselves, will have a decision to make as we move forward.

“We haven’t made that decision yet.

“We’ll find out what’s happening first.”

Castleford initially signed Hardaker on a season-long loan for 2017 but they made that permanent when paying Leeds £150,000 to secure him on a three-year deal in June.

The 2015 Man of Steel failed a drugs test after Castleford’s Super 8s game against his former club Leeds on September 8.

He became the third Super League player to test positive for cocaine in just three months after Widnes Vikings’ Rangi Chase and Wakefield Trinity’s Adam Walker failed tests having faced each other in the game between the sides on July 14.

Ex-England stand-off Chase was banned by UKAD for two years on November 23 but no punishment has yet been confirmed for Scotland prop Walker.

Powell has already stated Tigers stand-off Benny Roberts will revert to full-back in 2018.

Meanwhile, Wigan Warriors have re-signed England centre Dan Sarginson, 24, after an injury-ravaged solitary season in the NRL with Gold Coast Titans.