Catalans make past and present Wigan players top targets to finalise recruitment

Catalans Dragons’ penchant for former Wigan Warriors players is set to continue as the club seeks to complete its squad for Super League 2020.

The recent surprise departure of centre Brayden Wiliame to the NRL’s Dragons, St George, has left a gaping hole in Steve McNamara’s plans for the coming season and he has his set his sights on an immediate replacement.

Local media in Perpignan has suggested Salford’s Gil Dudson and Lee Mossop as possible targets, both former Wigan players, and current cherry and white prop Ben Flower is also rumoured to be on the Catalans hit list.

Coach McNamara remains tight-lipped about his recruitment plans but admitted that new signings were imminent at Stade Gilbert Brutus.

He told League Express: “Losing Brayden has left a hole in the squad and we need to fill it so we’re looking for at least one new recruit. I’ve already said that we won’t necessarily be looking for a centre and so long as we go through the correct channels and everyone is agreeable we could be looking at currently contracted players.

“We definitely need one addition, maybe two, but we have deliberately left a couple of places available in the squad with the specific aim of filling from our own ranks.

“It’s crucial that we develop and promote homegrown talent and that’s what we will try to do as the season progresses.”

McNamara is preparing his side to face fellow French club Toulouse Olympique in a pre-season fixture in Carcassonne on Saturday. Both teams trained together in Perpignan last week and the Catalans coach is keen to foster relations between the two clubs.

“We’re on our own here in France so it’s important that we work together,” he said. “We have a very friendly relationship, the players all know each other and coaching staff share ideas and methods.

“It’s important that we support each other and both Sylvain (Houles, Toulouse coach) and I agree that we should get together as often as possible.

“There’s been talk of divisions in French Rugby League but it’s no different to any other part of the game. Wherever the game is played there will be differences of opinions and the only real problem at the moment is the strength of the national team, particularly as we approach another World Cup.

“As the two leading clubs over here it’s important that we set an example by working together. It’s so important for the game here that we are all on one page so that we can produce as many good French players as we can.

“The joint training session was full contact and there was a big commitment from both sides and they ripped into each other which, as coaches, is what we want to see. It was a first full physical run-out for both teams and there was a little more space than you would usually find in a league game but it was invaluable practise for both sides.

“We had all available players out there and, apart from a cut to James Maloney’s head which came courtesy of one of our own players, they all came through unscathed.

“The only ones who didn’t take part are Sam Moa, Tom Davies and Mickael Goudemand. Sam’s still working his way back to full contact training following the broken arm he sustained at the end of last season. He spent some time back home down under for family reasons so he’s catching up at training now but he’s on target to be fully ready for the first game.

“We expect Tom and Mickael to be ready for the early rounds of the season.”

Toulouse Olympique will face Catalans Dragons on Saturday January 18th (kick-off 3.30pm UK-time) at Stade Albert Domec, Carcassonne. The match is part of Elite One club Carcassonne XIII’s 80th anniversary celebrations.