Tony Gigot signs two-year Catalans Dragons deal after returning to training
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 13/02/18 6:59pm
France international Tony Gigot has signed a new two-year deal with the Catalans Dragons on the day he reported back for training.
The 27-year-old full-back last week overturned a two-year suspension imposed by the French Anti-Doping Agency for an "inappropriate exchange" with a testing officer in 2016.
The ban, initially reduced to three months on appeal, was reimposed last August, forcing Gigot to miss the Catalans' dramatic bid to salvage their place in the Betfred Super League, and France's World Cup campaign.
Dragons stood by Gigot and left room on the salary cap and a spot in their squad in anticipation of his return, which he has now filled on a deal running until the end of the 2019 season.
"I'm really happy to be able to do again what I love and to be back in my club," said Gigot, who has scored 30 tries and 177 points in 83 Super League appearances.
"I would like to thank Bernard and everybody at the club for their support. I'm now looking forward to being back at the Gilbert Brutus Stadium to start the training with my team-mates."
Catalans coach Steve McNamara added: "Obviously he's missed a lot of months of training but he looks in good shape and he's raring to go.
"It's a huge boost for our squad. We were hopeful this would happen and made space in the squad.
"To get a player of the quality and influence as Tony back in the next few weeks is going to be immense for us.
"It's obviously been very difficult for him but he's had a training programme from ourselves, although it cannot replicate training with the team.
"We want him back as soon as possible but we've got to be careful with him. It's how he adapts to training full-time again as to how quickly we'll consider him. We'll not put a time-frame on that."
Gigot's ability to play centre and stand-off as well as full-back will add considerably to McNamara's options as they look to put last year's disappointing season behind them.
The Dragons have lost their opening fixtures against Widnes and St Helens and as they flew out of Barcelona on Tuesday to prepare for Thursday's game at Hull KR, live on Sky Sports Arena, they are still counting the cost of an opening-round game on the Vikings' synthetic pitch.
McNamara opted not to risk Greg Bird on the surface but half-backs Samisoni Langi (ankle) and Luke Walsh (back) both sat out last Saturday's game against Saints after picking up injuries at the Halton Stadium while hooker Michael McIlorum sustained foot and knee injuries.
"They all got injured on that pitch," McNamara said. "It absolutely ripped us apart in game one.
"It was my first experience of that field and we suffered badly."
The Dragons will be without Langi and McIlorum for the game against Rovers but Walsh is set to return, alongside hooker Paul Aiton, who injured his neck in the club's pre-season friendly at Hull.