Dragons chase Pearce as Maloney joins Lezignan

Catalans Dragons are hoping to lure NRL star Mitchell Pearce to Perpignan as a replacement for James Maloney.

The 32-year-old State of Origin and NRL Grand Final winner has a year left to run on his current contract at Newcastle Knights, but other clubs are allowed to make approaches and Super League’s French club is among his suitors.

Canberra Raiders are keen on Pearce following the early return to the UK of their scrum-half George Williams, but the Dragons are hoping a lucrative three-year-deal at Stade Gilbert Brutus will tempt Pearce into following his former team-mate Maloney to the south of France.

Any new deal for Pearce would likely trigger an early release by the Knights and he could be playing Super League from game one of the 2022 season.

Maloney will retire from full-time Rugby League at the end of this season and he has signed a one year deal to play part-time with French champions Lezignan in the Elite One competition.

“We’d like to stay in France for a year or two,” Maloney told League Express.

“But I’m ready to step down from full-time footy so I’m very grateful to have the chance to play for Lezignan and I’m looking forward to it.”

Catalans are staying tight-lipped on any approach for Pearce, although as a former team-mate of Maloney at Sydney Roosters, and with a winning halfback partnership at Origin level, he will be fully aware of Maloney’s successful two-year stint for the Dragons and his decision to remain in France for the foreseeable future.

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