Eric Perez eyes up promotion for Ottawa – with French halfback in their sights

Ottawa founder Eric Perez has set his sights on promotion in the club’s inaugural year after the appointment of Laurent Frayssinous as head coach.

The former Catalans coach was unveiled as the inaugural head coach of the Aces last week – with his focus now on building a squad for next season.

No players have officially signed for the club yet but League Express has learned that a number of players have entered discussions with the Canadian club for next season, with talks accelerating since Frayssinous’ appointment.

French halfback Louis Jouffret looks set to be one of their first signings with a move to the club from Featherstone appearing increasingly likely.

Ottawa are set to be the biggest spenders in League 1 but will not flex their muscle in the same way Toronto did when they stormed to the title in 2017.

It’s understood Ottawa’s playing budget will be £500,000 and Perez said: “When I was CEO of Toronto in League 1 we had a budget, we fulfilled that and after that was done there was some extra-curricular spending. Our budget will be similar to the one I expected us to have at Toronto.

“Laurent is in the process of putting the squad together. You can expect some signings pretty soon and pretty often, but right now we have none officially signed. That will change fairly soon.”

Additional to that, Perez confirmed they will trial Canadian talent later this year and they are prepared to give out as many as ten professional contracts should the level of quality be on show.

In appointing Frayssinous, Ottawa boast a coach who has experience of working at a new club, having been a player at Catalans during their maiden Super League season.

“He’s coached at the highest level, he knows what it’s like to be in a new team in a new league and he has the perspective of a player too.

“He was the assistant and he knows how to be a head coach with the challenges of travelling. The icing on the top is that he’s French and Ottawa is right on the border of Quebec, half of our catchment area will be there and it’s one of the world’s true bilingual cities, he’s charismatic and that will help our appeal both with supporters and the media.”

Perez also reassured the club was on a sound financial footing despite the repercussions of Covid-19.

“People are taking money out of stock market but no matter what is going on sports have a place, we’re sweet.

“For sure, it’s been harder because of the uncertainty, we weren’t going to be playing now but we don’t know if they will restart, when it will restart and how long will the season go. Those kinds of factors will be in play but we’ll deal with them. Air travel will be fully globalised by the winter so it shouldn’t affect us next year.

“We’ve not got a training facility yet but we’re in talks to get something done. If there had been no Covid; I haven’t been to England since December, that’s an element of the issue. But we’re close to locking down a facility.”