Dragons back in training

Catalans Dragons’ new recruit Dean Whare will hit the ground running this week as he joins his new team-mates on a four-week pre-season schedule which includes two warm-up games against French teams.

The 31-year-old Kiwi centre will jet into Perpignan and pick up his kit bag as Catalans cram their preparations for Super League 2021 into a short programme.

“Dean should be with us in the next few days,” Dragons coach Steve McNamara told League Express.

“All of the paperwork and documentation is now complete, it’s taken a little longer than usual because of Covid restrictions; it’s not normally this complicated but it’s understandable in the current climate.

“He’s waiting for official clearance on Monday morning and he will be on an aeroplane as soon as possible after that. We’re really looking forward to welcoming him to the group.”

Whare was brought in as a replacement for David Mead, who has returned to the NRL with Brisbane Broncos, but he is expected to slot into the first team at right centre in place of Israel Folau, who is still in Australia dealing with family issues and is not expected to return to France.

Folau’s departure would leave Catalans with two vacant overseas slots on their roster, but McNamara says there are no imminent developments on recruitment.

“We’ve nothing to announce and we’re simply focusing on regrouping for the season ahead,” he said.

“We’re all planned and ready, we’ve got a couple of warm-up games locked in and we’re going to maximise the time we have available to prepare for the coming campaign.”

Catalans will play a French President’s XIII on Saturday (March 6th), a selection of players from the Elite One league containing former Dragons Tony Gigot, Louis Jouffret, Lucas Albert, Mickael Simon and Gavin Marguerite.

The game will be played at the nearby Stade Aimé Giral (where Catalans held their first-ever Super League game against Wigan Warriors in 2006) because Stade Gilbert Brutus has been loaned to local football club Canet FC, who have a cup tie against Olympic Marseille.

Catalans will play Championship side Toulouse in a pre-season game at the Brutus on Saturday March 13th.

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