Coach’s blunt warning to England bad boy

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The 25-year-old former Penrith player is facing an uncertain future in the game after being dropped by Castleford for last Saturday’s Super League Grand Final and discarded by England for the 2017 World Cup.

It was announced on Monday that Hardaker had tested posive for cocaine on September 8 and has been provisionally suspended by the Rugby Football League pending the outcome of an investigation by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD).

Speaking at the England media day ahead of the squad’s departure for the World Cup in Australia, Betts says neither he nor head coach Wayne Bennett had spoken to Hardaker but admits he will need assistance.

“It’s one of those tough things to deal with,” said Betts.

“You’ve got to sort out what you can control and I can’t control individuals.

“I had this with Rangi (Chase) too. I’ve no malice towards these lads because they’re just kids who’ve made mistakes and done something stupid.

Zak Hardaker of Castleford Tigers.

Zak Hardaker of Castleford Tigers.Source:Getty Images

“His integrity and his morality needs to get back into kilt because of what he’s done and how he’s let people down.

“He’s always had issues and it’ll get to a point where the game can’t sustain him any more and that might come sooner than he thought. He’s going to have to make some decisions about lifestyle and what he does next.”

Hardaker became the third Super League player to be suspended following drugs offences in the last three months after Rangi Chase (Widnes) and Adam Walker (Wakefield) both tested positive for cocaine, but Betts say the problem is not confined to rugby league.

“This is not a rugby league issue, it’s a society issue,” he said.

“Society in general has got some things to deal with.

“This is just a young man who has background issues with where he grew up, anger issues he’s dealt with and he’s got money in his pocket.

“It’s really hard for me to comprehend because it’s something I’ve not been involved with. I can’t understand what would make him do what he did. I can’t see what he was even thinking.”

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