Remembering the last Frenchman to play for Leeds Rhinos

This week, Rugby League Live revealed that Justin Sangare of Toulouse is set to join Leeds Rhinos for 2023 as Rohan Smith’s first signing as Leeds Rhinos boss.

It pleased Rhinos fans very much – although the club have yet to announce it themselves – as he ticked a number of boxes for them being young and full of potential whilst addressing a position many believed Leeds were light in going into this season.

He also has the capacity to play a role that is becoming more and more central to the top teams that Leeds have yet to find. A big, explosive impact forward has been key to the success of the clubs in the top four. Saints have Agnatius Paasi, Catalans have Sam Kasiano and Wigan have Patrick Mago but Leeds have yet to really find that kind of impact forward and Justin Sangare can play that role for the eight-time Super League Champions.

Should the signing be confirmed, he’ll become the first Frenchman to play for Leeds since 2008 and Eric Anselme. The centre / second-row was a French international and went on to play in that year’s World Cup for France and was one of the stars of the French Elite One Championship.

Anselme signed for the club in May of that season on loan from Albi for the remainder of that season though he was scheduled to go back to play in the French Cup Final. Nonetheless, he came into the side for his first game a week after signing for the team at the Magic Weekend to alleviate Leeds’ injury crisis. He also got over for a try in the win over Bradford that day.

In fact he scored two tries in the four appearances he made for Leeds. After that he joined Toulouse ahead of the 2009 season as they joined the British league for the first time in the Championship.

The Rhinos did have a Frenchman on trial after him in the shape of now Catalans winger Fouad Yaha in 2014.

Now it looks like Justin Sangare is the latest Frenchman to join for Leeds and could be a vital signing in Rohan Smith’s revolution.

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