Zak Hardaker was offered Castleford Tigers return before joining Wigan Warriors

Zak Hardaker was offered the chance to return to Castleford on a reduced contract before agreeing to join Wigan, the former England international has revealed.

The former Tigers full-back, who was also the subject of interest from Toronto, signed a four-year contract with the Warriors last Friday, effective from November when he completes a 14-month ban after testing positive for cocaine.

The 26-year-old was suspended in September 2017 and sacked earlier this year, having missed the Tigers’ Super League Grand Final defeat to Leeds Rhinos, but he has revealed that his former employers did offer to re-sign him on the “minimum wage”.

Hardaker told the Wigan Observer: “Because I’d breached my contract it (the dismissal) was fair enough but I tried to stay there and I said, ‘Look, can you keep me on, pay me minimum wage, can you keep me on…’

“They did offer me a contract but it was a low one. My solicitors’ fees were through the roof and the contract didn’t match up to the fees.”

Hardaker added: “I believe things happen for a reason and now I’m looking forward to this move to Wigan.

“Toronto were the first to come in for me and the chance to play in Canada did appeal.

“But, as soon as Wigan came in, I jumped at it.”

Hardaker says he could not bear to watch the Grand Final in October and blamed himself for the 24-6 loss.

“I got a call on the Thursday before the Grand Final saying I’d tested positive and I was suspended immediately,” he said.

“I just ran off. I grabbed my bag, called my girlfriend and went to Cumbria. I turned the phone off and went and stopped in a log cabin in the woods for five days.

“I just needed to get away from the world.”

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Hardaker, who says he was a Wigan fan as a child, took a job in sales at a cleaning firm to earn money during his ban but is now determined to recapture his former glories.

“I want to win trophies,” he said. “I want to be in the England side. I want to be Man of Steel again, 100 per cent. I want the fairy-tale ending now.

“This has been the last bad chapter in the book. As soon as I lift a trophy, I want to think, ‘I know where I’ve been and where I am now’, I want this to be a journey.”

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