Catalans Dragons have strengthened their 2023 squad with the return of a former player in the shape of 28-year-old Romain Navarrete, who has joined from Toulouse Olympique.
Navarrete signed with Catalans in 2015 and made a handful of appearances before a move to Wigan, during which he returned on loan to Perpignan, but now he’s back for good have impressed with Toulouse during the 2022 season.
The prop has spoken to Catalans Youtube channel about making his return and what fans can expect having not seen him represent the Dragons for over five years.
“It’s been a few years, I would have liked to come back before if the circumstances had been right but I’m here and I’m happy to show the Dragons fans that I didn’t work all these years in England for nothing, that I could come back today and bring all the experience I acquired.”
The years that Navarrete references featured 60 appearances for Wigan Warriors including an appearance in the 2018 Grand Final victory, but it also meant time out on loan with the likes of Swinton Lions and Wakefield Trinity.
On pre-season, which is something that coach Steve McNamara has stated Catalans are at a clear disadvantage with as reported here, Navarrete explained that it’s very “precise”.
“It’s complicated, we’ve done a lot of precise work with the physics and we ran a lot but it feels good to be with the players in a new environment finally.”
Part of the reason that Catalans had such a depleted squad to start the pre-season, which McNamara alluded to, was due to the fact that much of the side were at the World Cup representing the national team, something that Navarrete sadly missed due to injury but he chose to take the positives from the situation.
“It was complicated to digest the fact of not going to the World Cup but I knew that there was no operation to get me ready in time and that with a good rehab I could resume in 2023 well, so that’s what I did.
“I’ve worked 100% with the Dragons, they’ve helped me a lot during and today I feel 100%. I feel ready to attack the season the best ever, getting older I have more experience in the mind which is reflected more whereas I think that the years in England helped me to become independent when I was all alone in another country.
“That experience has helped me every day but it’s also going to be useful in rugby terms because it meant I worked really hard, I knew what I wanted and that’s why I’m here today. I want to win titles.”
Navarrete credited the clubs and his time in England but is clearly happy to be home and wanting to play for the Dragons having recovered from his rehab and will be ready to go for week one against Wakefield, with Catalans having a limited pre-season set to play just once against the French reserve team.