Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: Warriors prop gets contract extension

James Gavet. Photo / Michael Craig
James Gavet. Photo / Michael Craig

James Gavet's NRL renaissance will continue, after earning a contract extension at the Warriors until the end of the 2017 season.

The prop had been contemplating a return to rugby if he couldn't secure his future at Mt Smart, but that difficult decision has been taken out of his hands.

Today the Warriors activated a one-year option on his contract, meaning Gavet will have a second season at one club for the first time since 2013.

It's been an unlikely, but heart warming progression. Gavet has been dogged by misfortune, with three season-ending injuries in the last four years. He's also had personal struggles, with his well documented battles with alcohol and depression.

Gavet returned home late last year to get his life back on track, and stayed fit by training with Richmond Rovers. The 26-year-old was taken on as a triallist midway through pre-season training, with Warriors coach Andrew McFadden then deciding he was worth a punt.

Gavet has been a solid performer, and plays his eighth first grade game tonight in Canberra, after managing only 14 NRL matches between 2012 and 2015. He's averaging career-best minutes (32) and yardage (73m per game) and offers a point of difference with his aggression and mobility.

He's also impressed the club hierarchy with his application, despite long spells on the fringes. He was absent from first grade for the entire month of April, and then for a six-week spell from the beginning of June to mid-July.

"We've always had pretty healthy competition, especially with the front rowers," said Gavet. "It's always an adjustment when you go between teams but it doesn't matter to me. I've always just taken the field and given my all, whether it be State Cup or first grade. It doesn't matter if you are playing in front of thousands, or just a few hundred and not even on TV. That's how we get here in the first place and you have to earn your stripes."

Up until last week, Gavet was unsure if he had done enough, admitting he was considering a switch to the 15-man code if unwanted at the Warriors. He had his eyes on playing Mitre 10 Cup with Auckland and then Super Rugby.

"I still want to play sport but since there is only one league team in New Zealand I'd probably give union a crack ," said Gavet. "Last time I played I was 18 but I've got the foundations there [although] I'd need to brush up on it a bit. But [former All Black] Michael Jones is a family friend and he always encourages me to have another go."

Such ideas are on the backburner now, as Gavet contemplates some stability - on and off the field - after the turmoil of the last few seasons.

"It's a good opportunity," said Gavet. "I've been given a new role, more about laying the platform than just impact. I'd like to stamp my mark while the other boys are out."

- NZ Herald

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