Zak Hardaker out of England's World Cup squad after failed drugs test

Castleford Tigers star Zak Hardaker has been axed from England’s World Cup squad

The RFL has revealed a sample taken from the 2017 Man of Steel nominee after the Super 8s match between Castleford and Leeds last month returned an adverse finding.

The 25-year-old fullback, who plays for Castleford Tigers in the European Super League, tested positive for a banned substance following a game against Leeds on September 8, England's Rugby Football League said.

Zak Hardaker, one of England's top rugby league players, was provisionally suspended after failing a doping test and missed out on selection for the World Cup on Monday.

News of Hardaker's indiscretion was announced on Thursday, when Castleford said he had been left out of their Grand Final squad because of a "breach of club rules".

The player, who faces a potential two-year ban, apologised for his "enormous error of judgement" to his teammates, club and fans in a statement on the Tigers' website.

'I was given an opportunity by this great club and in what has been one of the most important weeks in its history, I have let everyone at the club down. For that, I truly apologise.

"I would like to make it clear that in no way did I, nor would I, ever take a substance with the intention of enhancing my performance", added Hardaker.

News of his positive drugs test was confirmed today by the RFL and Castleford and Hardaker are expected to comment later. Hardaker, whose career has been marred by off-field issues, was recalled by England for the Test against Samoa in May and was a shoo-in for the World Cup until his latest lapse.

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Few players have experienced such contrasting fortunes as Zak Hardaker, who has been provisionally suspended after testing positive for a banned substance. "There's absolutely nothing we can do about that".

He made his professional debut for Featherstone Rovers - under current Castleford coach Daryl Powell - in 2010 and was signed by Leeds at the end of his first season.

Hardaker joined Castleford on an initial loan deal for 2017 that was later made permanent, after a stint in Australia with Penrith Panthers.

At the start of the 2015 season, after being the subject of a police investigation into an assault in the city, he was been fined a month's wages by Leeds and sent on an anger-management course.

Currie, 23, is chosen despite making just four appearances for his club this year due to injury, having been on England's radar since playing for Ireland in the last World Cup in 2013.

Powell admitted after the 24-6 loss to Leeds Rhinos that his side's Grand Final preparations were disrupted by the loss of Hardaker, though players insisted it was not an excuse for the result.

Without pre-judging any mitigating circumstances he may use in his defence, the probable outcome of this failed drug test is a two-year ban.


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