Zak Hardaker is a free agent as he waits to discover his punishment for failing a drugs test.

The former Leeds and England full-back was dropped by Castleford for last October’s Grand Final and two days later suspended after it emerged that he tested positive for cocaine.

Castleford head coach Daryl Powell announced at the club’s pre-season media day in early January that the Tigers had helped Hardaker find a job outside rugby league but revealed at his weekly press conference on Wednesday that the player was no longer part of the club.

“He’s not under contract with us because obviously he was sacked, having done what he’s done,” Powell said.

That prompted the Yorkshire club to issue a statement which said: “Castleford Tigers can confirm that Zak Hardaker has been dismissed from his contract with the club.

“Castleford Tigers will comment on this matter further when UKAD conclude their case.”

Hardaker, whose rejuvenated form in 2017 earned him a shortlisting for the Man of Steel award he won two years earlier, had four years left on a contract he signed only last June.

Castleford v Hull FC – Betfred Super League – Mend-A-Hose JungleZak Hardaker rediscovered his best form at Castleford (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

That came after the Tigers paid Leeds £150,000 to make his loan move permanent but his career came crashing to a halt when it was revealed he failed a drugs test after a Super 8s game against the Rhinos last September.

UK Anti-Doping has yet to divulge any details of its investigation but Hardaker, who missed the World Cup Down Under because of his suspension, is facing the likelihood of a two-year ban, which would be backdated to October.

That has not prevented the player being linked with a move to Wigan, speculation which puzzled Powell at his press conference.

“Why clubs would be talking to him at this point … it hasn’t even been decided what ban it is,” he said.