Leeds Rhinos full-back Zak Hardaker will face a ban of between four and eight matches after using homophobic language during a recent Super League match.
The Rugby Football League (RFL) has charged him with a Grade E offence, after he called another player a “fucking fag”, according to PA.
It was originally reported that he had directed the abuse towards the referee, James Child, but Hardaker has confirmed that this was not the case.
He has now apologised to fellow player, Michael Monaghan, for his use of the “offensive term”.
Hardaker commented: “I would like to apologise for any offence my comments during that game have caused. 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 it had been perceived.
“As professional players, we know that we have an obligation to conduct ourselves in the right manner for the good of the game at all times, that includes with our team-mates, opponents, officials and, of course, supporters at the ground and those watching at home on television, and my comments fell below those standards.
The incident took place during the Super League fixture between Leeds and Warrington on Friday, May 30.
“I would especially like to apologise to Michael Monaghan, who my comments were aimed at. During the investigation, I was made aware that the referee on the night, James Child, also heard my comment and was offended by it.
He added: “I would like to unreservedly apologise to him for that and I can assure him that no offence was intended toward him. I have complied fully with the RFL’s investigation, never looked to deny what I said and will accept their judgement.
“I made a mistake and hopefully, if any good can come from this situation, it is that everyone thinks about the words they say and how they can cause unintended offence to those around us. Clearly certain words have powerful meanings other than that intended at the time.”
Hardaker will face the RFL’s disciplinary committee today (June 10).