Catalans Dragons plot further changes to squad for 2023 season

IT WILL be a different Dragon in Super League next season as Catalans’ President Bernard Guasch continues to ring the changes at Stade Gilbert Brutus.

The shock release of scrum-half Josh Drinkwater and prop forward Dylan Napa last week is the latest of a series of measures designed to change the trajectory of the club, following “a season of disappointment” in 2022 according to the club owner.

The Australian players both had a remaining year on their current contracts but have been allowed to “search for other clubs” as they do not feature in the Dragons’ plans for 2023. 

Another Aussie whose future is now in doubt at the club is Tyrone May, who picked up a serious hip injury in their Samoa’s World Cup Group A clash against England.

May recently signed a twelve-month extension after an initial one-year-deal with the Dragons but the club will monitor the player’s recovery before deciding on his inclusion in next year’s squad.

Catalans finished fourth this year, following a League Leaders’ Shield and Grand Final appearance in 2021, and Guasch has promised wholesale changes including the departure of up to 14 players in a bid to streamline next year’s squad.

Guasch told local media in Perpignan that last year’s 34-man group must be reduced and resources targeted towards more quality than quantity.

He has appointed a Director of Sport, 54-year-old former Scottish rugby union prop forward Neil McIlroy, to work alongside coach Steve McNamara and general manager Alex Chan and Guasch is keen to recruit “power and pace” to next year’s squad.

Former Dragons’ prop Chan is currently down under seeking new recruits although League Express understands an attempt to sign Wests Tigers’ 22-year-old three-quarter Tommy Talau failed last week after the player agreed a new deal with his current club.

Catalans may turn their attentions to Oliver Gildart, the former Wigan Warriors and England international centre, who has been released from the final year of his contract with the Tigers in the NRL.

Another name on the potential target list is 25-year-old Sydney Roosters’ utility back Adam Keighran, who is out of contract and understood to be keen on a switch to Super League.

Meanwhile, training will begin in Perpignan next week for new recruits and Dragons players not involved in the World Cup.

Former Wakefield winger Tom Johnstone and Hull second-rower Manu Ma’u will join the initial group with the internationals filtering back once their tournament duties are completed.

The third new recruit confirmed for 2023 is Tonga captain and former Sydney Roosters’ goal-kicking prop Sio Siua Taukeiaho, but Catalans are hoping to add three-to-four more additions to complete a squad of between 25 and 27 players.