Wigan Warriors are standing by Zak Hardaker after he was found guilty of drink driving and the full-back has vowed to confront his issues by undergoing rehabilitation.
The England international was given a 20-month ban from driving and fined £1,810 after he was over twice the legal limit for alcohol when behind the wheel last month.
Hardaker was sacked by Castleford Tigers in February following a positive test for cocaine last year, resulting in a 14-month suspension.
The 26-year-old has been given the chance to resume his career with Wigan Warriors next season, but the Super League champions have warned he must change his ways after he agreed to seek help at the Sporting Chance Clinic.
Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan said: "Firstly, I'd like to make clear that we are extremely disappointed with Zak's actions on the evening of the September 26.
"Drink-driving is completely unacceptable, and we are pleased the matter has been dealt with by the courts so firmly. Nonetheless, we have thought long and hard about what the correct thing to do is for Wigan.
"It would be easy for us to cut our losses with Zak and deny him the opportunity to play for Wigan but we are not going to do that. Our duty of care as employers is to help Zak address the fundamental problems that he has had for some time – issues that we believe could and should have been confronted already.
"Zak will enter a residential facility in the coming weeks and how he commits during this course will not only define his rugby career but potentially set him on a more productive path for the rest of his life. We realise there is no guarantee that this will happen but – regardless of the outcome – we feel this professional and responsible approach is the only way forward for someone so obviously showing the signs of a man in need of some serious help.
"Let me be clear – Zak fully understands that he is employed on our terms and under strict conditions. He knows he has a lot of making up to do. In what should have been a special week for the club, we could have been distracted by the actions of a player who has yet to pull on our jersey.
"But he has showed genuine remorse and is determined to repay the faith that we are showing him."
Hardaker said: "I'd like to wholeheartedly apologise for my actions. The first thing I need to accept is that I have a problem and I'll be throwing all my efforts into sorting that out.
"I'd like to thank Ian Lenagan, Kris Radlinski and the Wigan club for supporting me through this and I will do everything I can to repay their faith in me. My sole focus now is confronting the issues that have stopped me becoming the player and person I'd like to be."
16. November 2018
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