Both Zak Hardaker and Sam Tomkins can now be described as ex-Wigan fullbacks, but you’d have to say that Tomkins probably has the better legacy.
A four-time Grand Final winner with the Warriors in two spells at the club as well as a double winner in 2013, Tomkins’ second Wigan departure at the end of 2018 to join current club Catalans saw Zak Hardaker drafted in by the Warriors as they gave his career a lifeline.
Hardaker arrived at Wigan having not played in over a year after he was dropped by the Castleford Tigers before the 2017 Grand Final after testing for a banned substance.
At Wigan, the former Man of Steel did well helping the Warriors to top spot in 2020 and to the Grand Final where they were unlucky to lose to St Helens.
But, after being denied a release ahead of 2022 to move back to Yorkshire where his family is based, Hardaker’s time at Wigan has come to a disappointing end owing to his desire to come back home but also what we are led to believe are disciplinary issues.
This leaves Hardaker’s future unclear but there is expected interest from two of his former clubs in Featherstone and Leeds.
Nonetheless, Wigan will now do without him for the rest of the season after releasing him on Friday just two days before today’s game with Salford and live on Channel 4 in preview of today’s game, Sam Tomkins weighed in on Hardaker’s departure.
He said: “Zak’s left the club this week, disciplinary issues. There’s a strong culture at Wigan. You can’t just be a good player on the field and in life away from the field you’ve got to be good and Zak’s got some issues with that.”
It still remains to be seen where Hardaker will end up but we could still see these two great fullbacks battle again in Super League 2022 it seems.