CATALANS DRAGONS may need to draft in reinforcements on the eve of the new season, given the growing injury list at Stade Gilbert Brutus.
A five-month lay-off following shoulder surgery for the club’s top try-scorer Fouad Yaha is a major blow for coach Steve McNamara, who already has second-row Mike McMeeken missing with a broken wrist.
Tyrone May will miss the opening weeks of the season as he continues to recover from a dislocated hip and Sam Tomkins is still in recovery from a knee operation.
But McNamara remains buoyant despite the injury concerns and insists he won’t be forced into filling the club’s two vacant quota slots until the right players are available at the right time.
He told League Express that Les Dracs were on track for Round One of Super League at Wakefield Trinity, adding: “We’ve had another very positive week of pre-season.
“It wasn’t quite the idyllic south of France weather conditions last week; we had nice sunshine but the famous wind from the mountains was back in Perpignan.
“It was actually good for us to train in colder conditions and it’s the right kind of preparation for some of the weather we’ve seen back in the UK.”
McNamara said the previous week’s training-ground injury to Yaha wouldn’t deflect the Dragons from starting the season as strongly as possible.
He added: “Fouad has been really positive about it; he knows he has the operation at the end of the month. He has some work to do to strengthen the shoulder before then and he’s set about it with his usual professional attitude.
“He’s in really good condition anyway, so that helps too and I’m sure he will race through rehab in time to re-join us in the middle of the season.
“It was a freaky sort of accident; it wasn’t even a contact session when it happened, but it’s the nature of the sport. You have to train to such a standard to prepare for this game.
“The joint came out and sometimes it’s easy to put back in, but there was no way we could do it on the sidelines and he had to go to hospital.
“He’s had a previous issue with his other shoulder, so he knows the route back.”
Also on the route back are May and Tomkins.
“Tyrone is progressing really well and in front of all of his targets,” said McNamara.
“He’s been really diligent with his recovery and he’ll be ahead of schedule hopefully.
“Sam’s been around since the English players came back from the World Cup. He’s had the operation on his knee and it’s all about building strength for him now.
“We don’t need him to run too much before the season starts, just build up the strength in his legs and he’s working very hard on that. He won’t be far off for the start.”
Catalans have entered into a dual-registration agreement for 2023 with fellow French professionals Toulouse Olympique. The deal allows players to switch between clubs during the Super League and Championship campaigns.
McNamara said: “Now Toulouse are in the Championship it’s a logical step for both of us. Last year we had players who would have benefited from some time in the Championship but Brexit made that difficult and it was impossible with Toulouse because they were in Super League.
“It’s different this year and it’s a great opportunity for us both to take advantage of the arrangement. There’s a great relationship between the two clubs and it suits both parties.”
The Dragons will announce this year’s squad numbers at a season-launch party on Friday in Perpignan and will hold their only pre-season fixture against a France B Select side at Stade Gilbert Brutus on Saturday, February 4.