At the end of 2017 Castleford Tigers and Leeds Rhinos were gearing up for a huge all West Yorkshire Grand Final and one of the star men was set to be former Leeds star Zak Hardaker.
Hardaker had left Leeds for the Tigers on loan before making the move permanent and he was in red hot form being nominated for the Man of Steel Award.
However, just before taking on his former side in the Grand Final, Hardaker was slapped with a ban for testing positive for a banned substance.
Speaking on the Fully Game podcast, Hardaker opened up on the year as a whole:
“I think 2017 at Cas it was such an enjoyable year. The team socials or whatever you used to do, it’d be the full squad. Very rarely do you get a full team, you’d have a married man or some people who are religious and don’t drink but at Cas everyone got stuck in whether it was training or a beer.
“If you went for a walk, like a dog walk, there’d be lads who didn’t have dogs come. There’d be six or seven lads out together. It’s quite rare these days to find that.
“Obviously it was a bit of a s**t ending for myself and the club but throughout the full year from pre-season to when it finished it was a real enjoyable year.”
He then went on to talk about the incident that led to his ban: “It was coming up to about six games left of the season, everyone thinks it was a day before the Grand Final because that’s when it came out.
“What spun my mind was the the year before we’d had a miscarriage and it had popped up on my phone saying one year ago with a picture of the scan picture, so it sent me a bit west.
“We’d had training on the Tuesday and had Wednesday off. I spoke to my friend and we went for a beer, but we were playing Leeds on the Friday so I said we can’t go anywhere near Pontefract in case someone sees me.
“We ended up in Selby and it just ended up spiralling. I ended up doing coke till stupid hours in the morning then slept all day Wednesday, turned up to training on Thursday and played Friday and got tested after the game.
“It’s just random.”