RUGBY league star Zak Hardaker has been sentenced by a court after flipping his car while drink driving.

The Leigh Leopards three-quarter, 32, was being followed by police when his car overturned in the early hours of January 31 near Knottingley in West Yorkshire.

His appearance in court comes on the eve of the new Betfred Super League season, with Leigh facing Huddersfield Giants in their opener on Friday night.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court was told Hardaker, of Pontefract, had dropped a friend off after going socialising when an unmarked police car began following him.

In his mitigation, it was heard the car was following close behind leading to him fearing he may be carjacked or that the car wanted to race, leading to him increasing his speed to at least 70mph in a residential area.

The prosecutor told the court police had to drive at 88mph to keep up with Hardaker.

When police turned the lights on, it was heard Hardaker put his brakes on but due to his speed lost control of the vehicle, leading to it flipping into a roadside embankment.

Hardaker blew 55 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath, in excess of the legal limit of 35mcg.

His solicitor told the court he had “miscalculated” his drinks throughout the evening.

It was also heard midway through last season former Man of Steel and England international Hardaker’s medical exemption for ADHD medication expired, which was said to be the first domino to fall in leading to the drink driving offence, which also included some traumatic changes in Hardaker’s personal circumstances.

References from his mother and Leigh Leopards player welfare officer were also handed to the bench for consideration.

It was also heard since the offence he had abstained from alcohol, contacted Sporting Chance for help with alcohol related issues, and reapplied for his ADHD medical exemption so he can take his medication without risking breaching doping rules”.

His solicitor conceded Hardaker may be unable to continue his career at the Challenge Cup holders due to losing his licence, and his position as a role model has been destroyed.

He has a previous conviction for drink driving dating back to 2017.

Passing sentence, magistrates handed Hardaker, who appeared wearing a white shirt, dark jumper and smart khaki checked overcoat, a mandatory three-year driving disqualification and fined him £1,346, with a victim surcharge of £538 and court costs of £85, for a total of £1,969.

The chair of the bench warned: “It’s really important that you do not drive for the duration of this ban or you could easily end up in prison.”

A statement on Leigh Leopards website reads: "Leigh Leopards are aware of a drink drive incident involving Zak Hardaker.

"The club was made aware of the situation at the earliest opportunity and has supported Zak since and will continue to do so.

"The club will be making no further comment."