Shaun Wane has an extra ‘new’ signing for the 2018 season – French prop Romain Navarrete.
The 23-year-old cut short his debut campaign with Wigan to rejoin former club Catalans on loan last summer because he was homesick.
“Family is clearly very important to Romain and it is not fair on someone to see them so visibly down,” said executive director Kris Radlinski at the time.
Given the reasons for his exit, many expected Navarrete to seek a permanent move away in the winter.
He even received an offer from another club – but he knocked it back and reported for duty with Wigan on January 2.
And Wane is happy to give him another chance, especially after seeing the way he has knuckled down in the last two weeks.
“It was up to him. He had two choices, and he’s chosen the toughest one – to come back and dig in,” said Wane. “He probably realised what he missed while he was away.
“He’s killing it in training. I’ve been really impressed with him and he’s forcing me to take him to Australia next month.”
Wane plans to let Navarrete lead a young Wigan side at London Skolars this Friday, and is hoping he can fulfil the promise which convinced him to sign him – along with Morgan Escare – from Catalans at the end of 2016.
“He’s tough, he’s strong, he’s athletic – we’d be foolish not to take it up,” he added.
“We’ve had a chat and he agreed that we didn’t see the best of him last year.
“Hopefully we see the best of him this season.”
Navarrete played 10 matches for Wigan last season, all from the bench.
He faces competition for front-row spots from Ben Flower, Tony Clubb, Taulima Tautai, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Ryan Sutton, Joe Bretherton and new recruit Gabe Hamlin.