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Exclusive: Benjamin Garcia reveals he turned down Super League clubs before extending contract

Ben Garcia Catalans Dragons in Super League

Catalans Dragons are becoming a major force in the Super League following a number of years near the top.

That good form was encapsulated in 2021 when the French club finished top for the first time in their history and qualified for their first ever Grand Final at Old Trafford.

One of the main contributors to the Dragons’ rising success is Benjamin Garcia.

After a few seasons in Australia with the Wynnum Manly Sea Eagles and then Brisbane Broncos’ National Youth Competition, Garcia joined Catalans in 2013, debuting in August of that year.

Since then, the loose-forward has established himself as one of the greatest performers in the top flight, playing for three seasons until a one-year hiatus with the Penrith Panthers split up his eight years at the Stade Gilbert Brutus.

Garcia soon returned in 2016 and has gone on to make over 150 appearances for the Perpignan side.

However, when getting ready to sign a new contract in summer of last year – he eventually put pen to paper on a new three-year deal – Garcia has revealed that he had an offer from Castleford Tigers.

“I signed three more years for the Catalans, I had an offer from Castleford and some interest from another club but nothing more,” Garcia told Serious About Rugby League.

“I would like to retire at the Catalans at the end of my professional career and leave the club in better position than when I came.”

For Garcia, the 2021 season was something which took him a little bit by surprise, especially when considering the loss of high-calibre players.

“2021 was great, it was my first year as captain of the club.

“We lost a few experienced players at the start of the season like Sam Moa, Mickael Simon and Remi Casty, so I didn’t really know how the season would be.

“But after the preseason I knew the 2021 group was better, stronger, with lot of enthusiasm and great recruitment.”

The 28-year-old Frenchman is hopeful that the agonising 12-10 Grand Final loss to St Helens will spur his side on for more silverware – even if the defeat gave long-lasting memories.

“It’s the best season for the Catalans since 2006 – we found the consistency that we didn’t have in the past and to win the League Leaders’ Shield was a great reward.

“So, personally I’m just proud of what the team achieved this year – to go to Old Trafford and play a semi-final at home in this atmosphere, that’s the type of game I want to play every year.

“The loss in the Grand Final will be in my mind for a long time just like every competitor, but it’s made me even more hungry.”

Speaking about next season, Garcia believes that hunger will ensure that motivation doesn’t drop in the Dragons camp with the French international believing losing at Old Trafford may turn out to be a blessing.

“We have to know that sometimes you have to lose to win. It’s our first Super League final and that disappointment can turn out to be a blessing because we’re already talking about next season.

“The defeats make winning better. It is the worst thing to happen to lose a final but if we can go and win the final in 2022, I think we will say it was actually a good thing because it didn’t let our level drop – instead it could help us go to the next level.”

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