New Catalans signing, the legendary Willie Mason, has revealed that Wayne Bennett played a major role in him joining the French club.
Mason signed for the Dragons last week following a lot of speculation and is expected to make his debut against Leeds Rhinos on Saturday.
The Australian international, known on these shores for a ferocious punch to Stuart Fielden in a test against Great Britain in 2006, was a free agent after being released by Manly Sea Eagles at the end of last year.
However Mason, 35, said that the new England head coach told him to make the move to Super League.
“I had a decision to make,” he told PA Sport. “This is my 17th year in professional rugby league.
“I talked to Wayne Bennett, who is one of my mentors who I ring up a lot for advice, and he said, ‘Go, it’s the best thing for you. You’ve done everything in the game, you came back and proved everybody wrong again. Now it’s up to you to finish your career the way you want to finish’.
“Not many people get the chance to do that. You retire because you get pushed out of the game, but I go on my terms.
“I could have stayed in the NRL, but I wanted to come here and to win something.
“The easy option was to stay in Aussie and do maybe one more year or some media, but this is such a great club. I look at the great Australian players who have worn the Catalan jersey and I want to be up there one day.”
Mason hasn’t been involved throughout pre-season with the Dragons, although he is adamant that he has done the preparation required to be ready for the match against the Rhinos.
“I’ve been training in Sydney with a couple of guys who do high performance training,” he said. “It’s different to rugby league training and at my age I need to keep fast, powerful and agile, I need to keep that mobility. I’ll be ready.
“It’s different to rugby league training and at my age I need to keep fast, powerful and agile, I need to keep that mobility. I’ll be ready.
“I know my job better than anyone else and I’m confident I can bring my experience to the team.
“I’m a more complete player now than when I was 25 because I’ve been coached by different teams and I take a bit from each coach.
“I’m a veteran of the game and I know my job as front rower, it’s all about attitude, you run hard and tackle hard, play hard. It is one of the hardest jobs on the field, but one of the easiest, it’s not like a half-back who has to organise. I talk a lot and organise in the middle.”