Catalans Dragons supporters will have to wait until after Christmas to unwrap their latest present, Australian superstar halfback Mitchell Pearce.
The former Sydney Roosters, Newcastle Knights and State of Origin player will land in Perpignan at the end of December after agreeing a two-year deal to replace his good friend James Maloney at Stade Gilbert Brutus.
Pearce will return to the Roosters as he prepares to move to France and will train under former Catalans coach Trent Robinson after securing a release from the final year of his contract at Newcastle Knights.
The 32-year-old has an option of a third year on his deal with the Dragons and he told Australian media of his “excitement” at the challenge ahead.
“I’m very grateful to Roosters chairman Nick Politis who invited me to train at the club until I got to France,” he said.
“I’ve spoken to Robbo (Robinson) and he said how happy he was for me and my opportunity to play at Catalans.
“He spoke about how proud the town of Perpignan is about their footy. To help win the first comp for them would be amazing.”
Dragons coach Steve McNamara, a former assistant to coach Robinson while Pearce played at the Roosters, said: “We are delighted and excited by the signing of Mitchell.
“He has had an incredible career in the NRL and having worked closely with him before, I know the sheer quality and energy he will bring to our team.”
McNamara still has two overseas signing spots available in his squad for 2022 and the Dragons have recently been linked with sacked Penrith Panthers halfback Tyrone May and prop forward Dylan Napa, who has been released by Canterbury Bulldogs.
Another former Roosters player, and ex-Catalans front-rower, Sam Moa is set to return to the Dragons in a coaching role following his decision to retire from playing.
A recurrence of an arm injury has prompted Moa to hang up his boots after a season with French champions Lézignan and he is widely expected to step in as an assistant to coach McNamara at Catalans.
“It’s always a tough decision to retire but it’s the right time for me now,” Moa told League Express.
“I’ve had a great career as a player and I’ve made so many friends in the game. I hope I can give something back now and pass on some of my knowledge and experience to others.”
In other news from Perpignan, Catalans Dragons are “fully aware” of comments made by the city’s Mayor Louis Aliot regarding the possibility of a ground-share with rugby union neighbours USAP at Stade Aimé Giral.
The civic leader raised the idea in a council meeting last week after suggesting that football club Canet FC could use Stade Gilbert Brutus.
The local authority owns both the Brutus and the Giral, although USAP and the Dragons have rolling leases and either club could veto the idea.
A spokesman for the Dragons said: “We are aware of it, and we will release something when we feel it will be appropriate.”
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