Australian superstar halfback Mitchell Pearce is on the brink of signing a million-dollar deal to join Catalans Dragons in Super League.
The 32-year-old State of Origin star has requested an early release from his contract at Newcastle Knights to follow his former team-mate and good friend James Maloney to the south of France.
Pearce still has twelve months on his current NRL contract, but the Knights look likely to grant a release to allow him to finish his career in Super League with a decision expected early this week.
The Dragons are prepared to match his current $600k per year wages in Australia on a three-season deal as a marquee signing, a similar amount to Maloney’s contract, and the French club is hoping to have him on board for pre-season training, which will begin at the end of November.
Dragons’ General Manager Alex Chan said, “We’ve definitely got an interest in him but we can’t force the fact unless he gets a release from his existing contract in Australia.
“I’ve spoken with coach Steve McNamara; he’s been in contact with Mitch and Steve is pretty positive we can make it happen, should he get that release from Newcastle.
“I think Mitch would bring what Jimmy brought to us. He’s an established player who has been there and done that and won titles.
“He will also bring the younger group up to where they need be and can show the young guys ‘this is how it’s done, now this is how you do it.’
“Mitch has been a professional for a long time. We are prepared to wait, but it would be a bonus if we could get a deal done soon.”
Maloney won a an NRL Premiership in 2013 alongside Pearce in the halfbacks at Sydney Roosters in 2013 when McNamara was assistant coach to Trent Robinson.
It is understood that Maloney and former Dragons’ prop Sam Moa have advised Pearce on his potential move to France, encouraging him to take up the challenge of a new culture and lifestyle.
Both Maloney and Moa have decided to stay on in France, playing in the Elite One championship at champions Lézignan following their time at Catalans.
Further news linking Catalans Dragons to clubs in Australia was the rumour over the weekend that French second-row international Paul Séguier was close to a move to Sydney’s St George Illawarra Dragons.
The 24-year-old forward has been on the fringe of regular selection for Catalans’ first-team and has already had loan spells at Toulouse Olympique and Barrow Raiders.
Meanwhile, the Dragons have extended the contract of 28-year-old centre Samisoni Langi for another season following his U-turn on a move to Wakefield Trinity.
The Tongan international will remain with Catalans until at least the end of season 2022, extending his link with coach McNamara, which began in the NRL in 2013 at the Roosters.
Langi said, “My family and I are happy to be extending our stay for another year; I am proud to be able to represent this great region.
“It has been our home for the last four years and I am still happy to call it that.
“This team is where I feel my journey truly began. One more dance to go, allez les Dracs!”
Catalans have announced a change of kit-supplier at Stade Gilbert Brutus following the expiry of a four-year deal with O’Neills.
A new contract with Italian sportswear manufacturer Macron has been signed and O’Neills will no longer oversee the Dragons’ club shop in Perpignan.
The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.