England have suffered setback in their preparations for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup after it was confirmed Castleford Tigers full-back Zak Hardaker will play no part in the squad following a positive drugs test for cocaine.
The Tigers released a public statement via their official website explaining Hardaker tested positive for cocaine after the September 8th fixture against Leeds Rhino, and the player said:
“I would like to apologise to my Castleford Tigers teammates, the staff and all fans for my enormous error of judgment. I was given an opportunity by this great club and in what has been one of the most important weeks in its history, I have let everyone at the club down. For that, I truly apologise.
“Finally, I would like to make it clear that in no way did I, nor would I, ever take a substance with the intention of enhancing my performance.”
England were already second-favourites to win the Rugby League World Cup but have now fallen to odds of 15/2 (8.50) with Sky Bet, although they were at almost half that price less than one week ago.
Australia, meanwhile, remain the overriding frontrunners for the top prize and are almost shoo-ins for the victory at 1/5 (1.20).
Image courtesy of Sky Sports.
2017 Rugby League World Cup Odds
Australia: 1/5 (1.20)
England: 15/2 (8.50)
New Zealand: 15/2 (8.50)
Tonga: 20/1 (21.00)
Samoa: 66/1 (67.00)