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Toronto Wolfpack get temporary roster relief in French international Tony Gigot

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Low on bodies, the Toronto Wolfpack have got some temporary roster help in the form of French international Tony Gigot.

The 29-year-old, who played for Catalan Dragons last season, joins the transatlantic rugby league team on a four-week trial basis.

Gigot, pronounced Gee-go, can play a variety of positions including fullback, centre and stand-off. He has been training with a local French rugby club.

"He decided to break away from Catalans and back himself to find another club," said Toronto coach Brian McDermott, who was coach at London Broncos when a teenage Gigot was a junior.

"I know how good a player he was back then," said McDermott.

In its debut season in the top-tier Super League, Toronto (0-3-0) has been restricted to 23 players due to salary cap restraints with one of those players — back Greg Worthington — on loan to Featherstone Rovers.

The roster has been further depleted by injuries to James Cunningham (hamstring), Darcy Lussick (hernia) and Joe Mellor (hand). New Zealand international Chase Stanley has yet to play this season because of visa issues.

That has left McDermott with just 18 players, with rugby league teams dressing 17 per game (13 starters and four on the interchange bench).

While Gigot arrives on trial, a longer contract could be in the works.

"If he pleases us and we please him, we're going to formalize it with a contract until the end of the season," said McDermott.

The Wolfpack will have the salary cap space to do that because of Cunningham's long-term injury. The club gets some salary cap relief because the hooker/scrum half will be out six months following hamstring surgery Tuesday.

McDermott said Gigot had "concrete offers" from other clubs, but opted for the trial with the Wolfpack.

"He wants to come to us. And I think he's the right man for the job," said McDermott. "But I want to make him go through this trial period first. And he's doing that for no money. There's no contract on offer and he's going to train with us for at least a month.

"There is a great level of commitment there and a bloke who's willing to back himself."

Under new Rugby Football League rules, Super League teams are allowed a limited number of amateur players. The amateurs fall into two categories — trialists who can play for the first team for a maximum of one month/four matches and amateur registered players who can only play in reserve games but can do so for the entire season.

Gigot falls into the first category.

The Frenchman helped Catalan make history in 2018, becoming the first non-English team to win the Challenge Cup final with a 20-14 triumph over Warrington Wolves. Gigot was named man of the match in the final, the first French player to earn the award.

Gigot then moved to Catalan, making his Super League debut in 2010. After one season with Catalan, Gigot moved on to play for Toulouse Olympique, Sporting Olympique Avignon and Australian's Cronulla Sharks before rejoining the Dragons in 2015.

Gigot will be available for the Wolfpack's game Friday at Warrington (1-2-0).

 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 19, 2020.

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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press