Steve McNamara insists he will not rush Tony Gigot back into to action despite the club’s poor start to the season.
The French fullback returned to training with the Dragons last week after successfully overturning a two-year doping ban.
It brought an end to a near 18-month saga that saw Gigot banned, freed to play and banned once again after appeals.
However, with the 27-year-old now able to focus on getting back on the field, McNamara is relishing the opportunity to get one of his prize assets back on the field.
But he said he is keen to give Gigot the time he needs to get back to fitness.
“First and foremost, his health and well-being were very important for us as a club and hopefully he’s really learnt some life lessons from this experience.
“I won’t put a time limit on that (his return). We got him back last week and had a look at him both mentally and physically, and he appears to be in reasonably good shape. But how he adapts to full-time training with the team remains to be seen.
“I think he’ll fall back into it straightforward, but he’s not been allowed to train with the club. He has been doing things sent to him by the club but it’s nothing like replicating what it is like running around with the team. It’s more how he adapts to that than anything else. Hopefully he will be available shortly, but I won’t put the player at risk of injury.”
Gigot’s return gives McNamara a selection issue, with David Mead currently playing in the fullback position. The Papua New Guinea captain has scored three tries in as many games so far and will prove to be stern competition for Gigot in his preferred position.
Yet McNamara is confident he can fit both players in his Catalans side.
“There are a few options,” he said.
“Tony can play fullback, centre or stand-off, David can play fullback, centre or wing. They are both strike players who can really damage the opposition, I’m glad to have that headache.
“From a playing experience, he’s a top-end high-quality strike player in whatever position he plays in and adds a great deal to us from a squad perspective.”
Meanwhile, McNamara confirmed the club would not need to offload players to make way for Gigot on the salary cap.
“We left that space open,” he said.
“We knew Tony was having that appeal but we were hopeful that Tony would get the opportunity to resume his career. If the verdict had gone the other way we’d have looked elsewhere, but he’s back with the Dragons and we’re glad for that.”