After seemingly having the world at his feet as a Catalans Dragons player, 2016 proved to be the culmination of a chastening period for young full-back Morgan Escare.
Nudged out of the team at the expense of France international Tony Gigot, Escare spent a large portion of 2016 sat on the sidelines and pondering his next career move after just nine Super League appearances all season – but things haven’t worked out that badly at all for the talented 25-year-old at all if the first month of the season is anything to go by.
Escare has been in a Wigan shirt for only two games thus far, but he is already a world champion. Drafted in as cover for Sam Tomkins by Wigan coach Shaun Wane, the full-back has proven to be more than just a stop-gap for the England international ahead of his return from injury.
Wigan’s victory against Cronulla was built on a strong defensive performance on Sunday afternoon, and Escare was right at the heart of that. He produced eight crucial tackles – more than his seasonal average at Catalans last campaign – and when he was called upon, he rarely disappointed.
There was a telling moment early in the second half where Cronulla were allowed to break downfield and, at 10-0, any slip-up from Escare as the last line of defence could have turned the game on its head. However, he stopped the imposing Sam Tagataese dead in his tracks and, shortly after, Wigan were 16-0 up and on their way to World Club Challenge glory.
And for a guy who hasn’t pulled a Wigan shirt on before, Escare seems to have made an almost instant impact with a Warriors backline that know each other very well. He was one of only three Wigan players to make breaks during their opening-weekend win against Salford, ran for more average metres per carry than any other player in the team and only one man, Liam Farrell, bust more tackles in that game than Escare.
So what does that all mean? It doesn’t change the fact that Escare will have one hell of a battle on his hands to keep his place in the side when Tomkins returns, nor does it mean he’s the finished product yet.
But what it does mean is that, after looking to have seriously stalled in the sang-et-or last season, Escare is showing all the signs that his career is back on the right track. And, in a year with a World Cup at the end of it and the aforementioned Gigot’s immediate future in limbo, the timing is quite ideal for a player who could still yet have the world at his feet.
Moving to Wigan may well be the kick-start Escare’s once-fledgling career needed all along.