Hardaker charged over comment

Congleton Guardian: Zak Hardaker is facing a lengthy ban Zak Hardaker is facing a lengthy ban

Leeds full-back Zak Hardaker is facing a ban of between four and eight matches after being charged over allegations that he made a homophobic comment during a recent Super League match.

The Rugby Football League launched an investigation into comments t he 22-year-old England international made during the Rhinos' 24-6 defeat at Warrington 10 days ago.

Hardaker, who last week issued an apology for his comments, will appear in front of the RFL's disciplinary committee on Tuesday after its match-review panel ruled there was sufficient evidence to charge him.

The player is facing a grade E offence of "using verbal abuse based on race, colour, religion, gender, sexual preference, national or ethnic origin".

In Hardaker's apology, he admitted using inappropriate language and insisted his comments were aimed at Warrington captain Michael Monaghan, rather than referee James Child, which appeared to be the case.

"I have complied fully with the RFL's investigation, never looked to deny what I said and will accept their judgement," Hardaker said in his statement.

Hardaker, who was thrown out of England's World Cup squad after a breach of discipline last November, has missed only one match for his club in the last 14 months but could be in danger of missing a large chunk of the second half of the season.

Former Wakefield hooker Tevita Leo-Latu was banned for six matches in 2007 for making a racist comment to Warrington winger Kevin Penny.

Castleford were fined £40,000, which was later halved on appeal, in 2010 after a section of their fans made homophobic chants at openly-gay player Gareth Thomas.

The Tigers were found guilty of unacceptable behaviour, of breaching the RFL's Respect Policy, of misconduct by their supporters and of conduct prejudicial to the interests of the sport.

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