Hardaker to miss Grand Final due to rule break
Zak Hardaker will miss the Super League Grand Final due to a "breach of club rules", Castleford Tigers announced on Thursday.
The 2015 Man of Steel was part of a Castleford side who won the League Leaders' Shield for the first time in the club's history and are set to face Leeds Rhinos at Old Trafford on Saturday.
However, Hardaker will sit out the showpiece fixture against his former club due to an unspecified rule break.
The 25-year-old has previously served a five-match ban over his use of a homophobic slur, while he was also sent on an anger-management course during his time at Leeds following an investigation into an alleged assault in the city.
Oliver Holmes and Jy Hitchcox come into the Castleford side that dramatically got the better of St Helens in the semi-finals.
"The semi-final was an unbelievable game," said head coach Daryl Powell. "You go through all sorts of emotions in a rugby league game but we've never been through as many emotions as we did in that game. I think this is why sport is so beautiful.
"Castleford was the club I grew up supporting, the place means so much to me, and to now be the head coach at the club I supported as a boy and to take this team into the Grand Final is such a great opportunity and we are in a great place.
"We have a great opportunity to finish the season off with the biggest trophy on Saturday night in front of a packed-out stadium at Old Trafford. I expect a real tough battle on Saturday, we have good quality players across the park and we'll focus on us."
Leeds include Stevie Ward in their unchanged 19-man squad despite a dislocated shoulder sustained in their semi-final win over Hull FC last Friday.
"Stevie was in a great deal of pain at the start of the week and is still unlikely to feature at Old Trafford, however we will give him as long as possible to prove his fitness," coach Brian McDermott said.
"They were unable to relocate his shoulder on Friday night because of the extent of the injury. Stevie was sidelined during the 2012 Grand Final and of course missed out in 2015 because of injury, so we want to give him time to try and stake his claim for Saturday."
Castleford Tigers: Matt Cook, Greg Eden, Alex Foster, Luke Gale, Jy Hitchcox, Oliver Holmes, Nathan Massey, Mike McMeeken, Paul McShane, Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Greg Minikin, Junior Moors, Joel Monaghan, Ben Roberts, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Michael Shenton, Gadwin Springer, Jake Webster.
Leeds Rhinos: Ashton Golding, Tom Briscoe, Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Ryan Hall, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Matt Parcell, Adam Cuthbertson, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Carl Ablett, Stevie Ward, Liam Sutcliffe, Brad Singleton, Mitch Garbutt, Jimmy Keinhorst, Brett Ferres, Anthony Mullally, Jack Walker.