Wigan Warriors head coach Matt Peet believes Kai Pearce-Paul will find another level after recovering from a long-term leg injury.
The England international has been sidelined since May, with his last appearance coming against Leeds Rhinos in the 40-18 home defeat in Super League.
Pearce-Paul, 22, is one appearance short of 50 for the Warriors since his move at the end of 2019, and has established himself as a talented prospect, able to feature at both centre and back-row.
The former London Broncos man was limited to 18 appearances in 2022 due to a groin injury, but impressed enough to be selected by Shaun Wane for his World Cup England squad, making his debut against Greece in his only appearance of the campaign.
Featuring in the centres, Pearce-Paul was a try-scorer in the 94-4 victory, assisting two more and soon after attracted interest from the NRL.
Newcastle Knights won the race, announcing his signing last December on a two-year deal alongside Huddersfield Giants star Will Pryce.
Pearce-Paul is preparing to make his Wigan return this Friday in Super League against Warrington at the DW Stadium, with coach Peet expecting the rising youngster to show fans the best version of himself for the remainder of his last season in England.
Matt Peet tips Kai Pearce-Paul to reach another level
“I do feel we’re going to see an improved version of Kai, physically and mentally,” Peet said.
“Whether that’ll be this Friday, but I think in the coming months and for the remainder of the season, the expectation is for us to see the best of Kai.
“The fact is, if you play in the World Cup, you don’t get a full pre-season. As a young player, pre-seasons are massive.
“Kai playing at the start of the year was behind some of the other players in terms of how much weight he had done in the gym and on the track and even on the playing field.
“It’s the way it is. If you’re picked for international, you’re an elite player. But he was very young and very inexperienced. He’s an excellent player, but that pre-season, he’s probably served it now.
“Like I say, it might not translate straight away, but I’ve seen how hard he’s been working behind the scenes and with the coaching team.
“All the little things that you get to focus on in pre-season, the individualised programmes, Kai will benefit from and at some point we’ll get to see that translate into some performances.
“Credit to him, from day one of his injury he’s been first class.”