For a club publicly looking to rebuild its off-field culture, Kiwi back rower Kenny Edwards was an unlikely mid-season capture for Catalans Dragons.
The 28-year-old was released by Parramatta after being charged with driving on a suspended licence, the latest of a host of controversies.
Edwards was suspended for seven games and fined $60,000 in 2017 over a domestic violence related assault and missed the entire 2015 season after taking a drugs test for a team-mate.
But the Dragons moved quickly to secure his services in May – after coach Steve McNamara assured chairman Bernard Guasch it wouldn’t affect the new culture he was painstakingly putting in place in Perpignan.
McNamara said: “Kenny became available and we had space on the salary cap.
“I made a promise to the chairman that I’d never let the club go back to some of the situations that the club has been in over the past few years.
“There were situations that simply weren’t good enough for a professional organisation.
“We’ve addressed a lot of those areas and the players have implemented a lot of changes themselves both on and off the field.
“Like I said I made that promise to the chairman and I was convinced that Kenny would add value to us.
“He’s certainly done that.
“We did our thorough research before we made the decision, and I’m glad we did make that decision because he’s really helped not only the depth in our squad but certainly the quality.
“Kenny has got some magic to his game that other players haven’t got, and he’s had a huge impact on the team for us.
“He’s been really good for us all around – he’s got an attacking strike about him.
“He’s scored some tries and made some tries and his impact off the bench has been great, which is one area that our game has really improved.”
Edwards’ short spell in France hasn’t been blemish free – last week he was fined and warned by the RFL after throwing a ball in the crowd in the semi-final win over St Helens that hit a child.
But McNamara believes the 28-year-old is on the right path.
He added: “I do sense he’s maturing.
“He’s come across here with his family and his children, and it is a great place to work and live.
“He’s got a great chance here to explore some areas with them, when maybe he’d be doing other things if he was back in Sydney.”