Catalans Dragons will gather the clans this week after an unprecedented 16 senior players took part in international fixtures over the weekend.
Coach Steve McNamara will regroup his squad in preparation for Sunday’s Super League clash away to Castleford Tigers.
“We had twelve players in the French international squad, three players in the England squad and one in the overseas squad,” said McNamara.
McNamara is now sweating on the fitness of two of his senior players after prop Jordan Dezaria and halfback Arthur Mourgue limped out of Sunday’s France v Wales International in Albi.
Mourgue left the field at half-time as a precaution after appearing to damage the ankle that kept him out of action for eight weeks earlier this season.
Dezaria was seen on crutches at the stadium and McNamara will await medical assessment this week on his two players.
McNamara has made no secret of his mission to bring young French players through the ranks at Stade Gilbert Brutus and he believes selection for French duty was a price worth paying for the continued improvement of juniors at the Dragons.
France national coach Laurent Frayssinous admitted that he was grateful for the work done at Catalans, and more recently Toulouse Olympique.
He said, “I have to thank Steve and Sylvain (Houles) and their clubs for their friendly and professional approach to this.
“The quality of the relationship we have with the two French Super League clubs allows French Rugby League to move in the right direction.”
The benefits of professional coaching of young French players was felt in Cumbria last week when the Dragons agreed to allow two first-team fringe players to join championship side Whitehaven on a month-long loan.
César Rougé, a 19-year-old half-back, and 23-year-old second rower/centre Corentin Le Cam will spend an initial four weeks at the Recreation Ground.
Meanwhile Catalans have secured the services of NRL recruit Tyrone May for another season.
Initially signed from 2021 Grand Final winners Penrith Panthers on a one-year-deal, May has agreed to stay in Perpignan for a second season.
The 25-year-old Australian has been impressive so far for the Dragons, playing in a variety of positions in every fixture so far this season.
He said: “It was an easy decision to stay here in this team. It’s a great environment with great people and loyal fans.
“I can’t thank everyone enough for making me feel welcome as soon as I arrived. I would like to thank in particular Bernard Guasch, Alex Chan and Steve McNamara for giving me opportunity to be here in the first place and offer me the chance to stay here again.
“Hopefully I can repay the favour by my performance on the field and how I carry myself off the field.”
Coach McNamara added, “Tyrone has been excellent for us after his initial arrival on a one-year deal and we are delighted he has agreed extend his stay. His versatility is a huge asset for us and he is adding real quality wherever he plays.”
The new deal for May followed hot on the heel of another extension by Les Dracs with England Knights second rower Matt Whitley agreeing a new two-year contract.
The 26-year-old joined the club from the Widnes Vikings in 2019 and has scored 28 tries in 71 appearances for the Dragons.
McNamara said, “Matt has been a great addition to us since his arrival and he continues to grow and impress as a young man and a player. We are delighted he has agreed a new contract.”
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