Catalans Dragons to start Super League season with French halfback pairing

CATALANS DRAGONS will start Super League 2023 with an all-French pairing in the halves as Arthur Mourgue and César Rougé prepare to step up to the big stage at Stade Gilbert Brutus.

Regular halves Mitchell Pearce (one-match suspension) and Tyrone May (hip injury) will be unavailable for round one at Wakefield Trinity, leaving the door open for the two young French internationals.

Mourgue and Rougé were named at one and 17 in the Dragons’ 2023 squad numbers and there was promotion too for French centre Matthieu Laguerre, who has inherited the number four shirt from the departed Dean Whare.

Catalans were the last club in the competition to name their 30-man squad, which was unveiled at a season-launch party at Perpignan’s Palais De Congress on Friday night.

England international Mike McMeeken will wear the number eight shirt this year, his regular place at twelve in the squad switching to another French player, Paul Séguier.

There are now ten French players in the top 17 squad numbers, which reflects the club’s ambition to promote more home-grown talent, given the future criteria planned by the RFL’s strategic partners IMG.

Coach Steve McNamara has made no secret of his plans to bring more young players through the club’s junior and reserves system.

He said: “It has always been the club’s plan to develop French players and we have conducted a thorough overhaul of our development programme.

“It’s great to see so many French names in this year’s squad, although it’s not necessarily too important what number is on the shirt.

“The most important thing is that the players know the value of the shirt.”

Catalans are expected to make two further signings, according to club President Bernard Guasch, who told the Perpignan press that “an Australian centre” would be on board within the next ten days.

The Dragons will hold a pre-season fixture against a France B Select side at Stade Gilbert Brutus on Saturday, February 4.

Catalans 2023 squad: 1 Arthur Mourgue, 2 Tom Davies, 3 Adam Keighran, 4 Matthieu Laguerre, 5 Fouad Yaha, 6 Tyrone May, 7 Mitchell Pearce, 8 Mike McMeeken, 9 Micky McIlorum, 10 Julian Bousquet, 11 Matt Whitley, 12 Paul Séguier, 13 Benjamin Garcia, 14 Alrix Da Costa, 15 Mickael Goudemand, 16 Romain Navarrete, 17 César Rougé, 18 Tiaki Chan, 19 Arthur Romano, 22 Siua Taukeiaho, 23 Jordan Dezaria, 24 Tom Johnstone, 25 Bastien Scimone, 26 Manu Ma’u, 27 Léo Laurent, 28 Ugo Tison, 29 Sam Tomkins, 30 Loan Castano, 31 Tanguy Zénon, 32 Mike Parenti.