Wigan full-back Bevan French is on his way back to the UK from Brisbane, to hook up with his team-mates for the 2021 season.
French, 25, was one of the stars of last season as the Warriors suffered a heartbreaking Grand Final defeat at the hands of St Helens.
He had been given an extended period of leave by the club, in light of the ongoing challenges surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, and posted a photo of himself on the plane on his Instagram account on Friday.
His team-mates will get their season underway tonight, Friday, against Leigh Centurions at Headingley, with Zak Hardaker deputising at full-back.
Also missing the season opener for Wigan is Jackson Hastings, who has only recently returned to the UK himself.
The 2019 Man of Steel has been subject of speculation linking him with a return to the NRL, barely days after landing on these shores from Australia.
Wests Tigers have made public their interest in Hastings, while a potential double injury blow suffered by Sydney Roosters in their NRL clash with South Sydney on Friday may well open up a vacancy there.
But Hastings is focused on Wigan and tweeted “don’t believe everything you read” on Thursday evening.
Don’t believe everything you read. 🤦🏼♂️
— Jackson Hastings (@JackoHastings) March 25, 2021
The former Salford half-back also re-tweeted a comment relating to player’s mental health, that read: “Seeing the comments regarding Jackson Hastings is a disgrace. Slating the guy for a club wanting to sign him. All those who are giving him abuse, are those who preach mental health.”
— Wigan Warriors 🍒⚪️ (@WiganWarriorsRL) March 25, 2021
Wigan’s official club account re-posted a photo Hastings shared wearing the 2021 Warriors jersey.
The Great Britain international was a virtual ever-present for last year’s League Leaders’ Shield winners, making 20 appearances.