Navarrete aims to stake an early claim
Romain Navarrete is keen to show fans just why Wigan recruited him when he makes his first appearance this weekend.
Shaun Wane has confirmed the prop is set to figure in Sunday’s friendly at Leigh, a match serving as Micky McIlorum’s testimonial.
Fellow Frenchman Morgan Escare will also figure in a strong squad for the Warriors’ only senior friendly on home soil ahead of the Super League season.
Navarrete has been signed as a ‘project player’ by Wane, who was impressed with his barnstorming displays for Catalans at the back-end of last year.
The 22-year-old has set a target for the season of surpassing the 11-match tally of 2016 with the Dragons. And he can go some way towards staking a first-team claim if he impresses against the Super League newcomers at the Sports Village.
Navarrete said: “I’m looking forward to playing for Wigan. I was happy to join, I’m hoping I can bring all that is possible, including my aggression.
“I want to play more games than last year and hopefully work towards being the best prop in Super League.
“I just want to play as many games as possible, I’ll give it my all to get starting position.”
Although two props, Lee Mossop and Dom Crosby, have departed and no others have arrived, Navarrete still faces a battle for a first-team spot.
Wane has the luxury of Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Ben Flower, Taulima Tautai, fit-again Tony Clubb and Ryan Sutton at his disposal. Joe Bretherton is also in the mix, while Willie Isa and Joel Tomkins also played games in the middle last year. Navarrete has played for an English club before – Championship One outfit Hemel Stags, before he earned a chance at Catalans.
He finished last year representing France in the Test against Wayne Bennett’s England in Avignon.
“I did the end of the season last year with the Dragons, training here is a lot harder but I am enjoying it,” said the ex-Pia and Limoux forward.
He speaks solid English, but will be in more comfortable surroundings next week when Wigan head to the south of France for a training camp.
It finishes with a friendly against Catalans next Saturday.
“I’m very happy to play against the Dragons as they were my last team,” added Navarrete, sporting a blond-rinse as punishment for being late.
“I want to prove something and I am looking forward to playing against them.”