It’s been well documented this off-season the troubles that Catalans Dragons have undergone with the initial set of just four players at pre-season, the inability to source opposition for pre-season friendlies and the recent injury crisis the club suffered to their star trio just last week.
At least one of those problems has now been addressed with confirmation of the squad that the Perpignan side will face in their sole pre-season fixture.
It had been something that head coach Steve McNamara had alluded to when discussing that his side would presumably play some form of France national team, and that has now being confirmed by the French Federation for Rugby League.
McNamara had previously made plenty of comments about the situation, as reported here, however the more devasting blow would have been last week’s announcement that Sam Tomkins and Mike McMeeken had undergone surgery and would miss parts of pre-season whilst winger Fouad Yaha is set for an MRI tomorrow to determine if he requires surgery on a shoulder injury.
That also comes off the back of two of their stands being declared unfit for purpose which will see the Gilbert Brutus undergo a major transformation.
The FFR have now compiled a squad full of young French talent from their Elite One division to face the Dragons on February 4th.
Maxime Greseque, coach of the selected side, said: “This match is a real opportunity to prepare our pool of new players for the France team of tomorrow. This will also allow this selection to measure itself against a high-level team and therefore to progress.
“All while preparing for the future, the international deadlines including the test match against the English and the 2025 World Cup. It’s great to be able to gather the best players in our league and an honor to play Brutus against the Dragons club!”
That team that has been built features Benjamin Jullien who plays for Pia having left the Gilbert Brutus at the end of 2022.
A further set of players with connection to Catalans will also play as five of the Super League side’s reserve team, St Esteve, will feature as well.
The full squad of players from Elite One, where the likes of former Super League stars Tony Gigot, Morgan Escare and James Maloney to name just a few, is listed below and there’s a clear focus on youth.
Saint-Estève XIII Catalan
Paul MARTY Léo LAURENT