Zak Hardaker has finally owned up to a homophobic slur he made during last weekends games against the Warrington Wolves, a slur that was clearly heard by viewers of the game.
The statement which was released on the Leeds Rhinos official web site reads:
“Because of the RFL’s investigation, this is the first opportunity I have had to speak about the incident in last week’s game at Warrington. First and foremost I would like to apologise for any offence my comments during that game have caused. In the heat of the game, I have used an offensive term and I can honestly say I was deeply saddened when I found out after the game how my comment had been perceived.
As professional players we know that we have an obligation to conduct ourselves in the right manner for the good of the game at all times, that includes with our team mates, opponents, officials and of course supporters at the ground and those watching at home on television, and my comments fell below those standards.
I would especially like to apologise to Michael Monaghan, who my comments were aimed at. During the investigation, I was made aware that the referee on the night, James Child, also heard my comment and was offended by it. I would like to unreservedly apologise to him for that and I can assure him that no offence was intended toward him.
I have complied fully with the RFL’s investigation, never looked to deny what I said and will accept their judgement. I made a mistake and hopefully, if any good can come from this situation, it is that everyone thinks about the words they say and how they can cause unintended offence to those around us. Clearly certain words have powerful meanings other than that intended at the time.”
Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Brian McDermott added, “This is a disappointing incident on all fronts. As a club we pride ourselves on representing our game in the best possible light. Zak has made a mistake. I am confident this was a genuine error of judgement and that he understands the offence his comment has caused. The standards set for the modern players are higher than any previous generation with the amount of coverage our game receives on television and online. As a club we must help our players to understand the level of scrutiny required to make sure an incident like this does not happen again.”
I’m not really sure what other way you could “perceive” was Hardaker said any other way than the offensive manner in which it came across. Maybe Zak Hardaker uses that slur as a term of endearment, who knows?
So now that he has owned up to what he was clearly heard saying by hundreds of thousands of people, that is it. Case closed, instant ban. Right? Right?
Well you need to remember that this is the RFL. They are dragging their feet slower than Paul Wellens running up a sand hill over all of this.
Last weekend a few hundred thousand Rugby League viewers knew what Hardaker had said. He how now come out and told people what he said. So why are we still waiting for him to receive a ban?