For the second time in three months, the 22-year-old Leeds full-back is being investigated for allegedly using “homophobic” language on live television.
Hardaker was suspended for five games in June after the RFL found him guilty of calling a referee a “fucking fag” during a televised event. His comments were originally spotted by fans watching the broadcast, and a swift investigation punished him with a five-game suspension and $500 fine.
Though the “homophobic” words Hardaker allegedly used haven’t been made public, the RFL said: “We are investigating an incident during the Super League match against St. Helens.” If found guilty, Hardaker could face an eight-game suspension and possible revocation of his eligibility for competing in the 2014 Four Nations tour in Australia.
In a series of since-deleted tweets denying the allegations, Hardaker blames “journalists”. The Guardian saved the tweets:
Hardaker took to Twitter to defend himself, claiming the allegations were “a load of rubbish”.
“Well this is the last straw for me,” he tweeted. “Sick of the crap that’s coming out about me, nobody knows anything so why would you comment in it.
“And the fact that people are saying I’ve said a homophobic comment or that I’m homophobic is a load of rubbish!! I’ve had ENOUGH.
“People don’t know the consequences this has on myself and my family and it’s p*****g me right off!!!
“So there…… You can write all you want you JOURNALISTS.!! Waste of breath the lot if you.”
His comments stand in contrast to the ones he offered in June, when he graciously accepted the five-game suspension as an opportunity to grow.
“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,” he said. “I would like to unreservedly apologize to him [the referee] for that and I can assure him that no offense was intended toward him.”