The positive impact of professional Rugby League clubs in France is beginning to grow in momentum, according to Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara.
An Elite One game between Lezignan and Carcassonne last week contained four former Dragons players (Sam Moa, Antoni Maria, Lucas Albert and Mika Simon) and McNamara believes their combined experience will be a huge boost for the French game.
“I think it’s fantastic that players of this calibre are taking their experiences and professionalism into the French competition,” McNamara told League Express.
“Most people retire from Super League and stop, but these players have obviously got a close affinity with the French game and I’m really pleased that they have chosen to play and pass on their skill and experience to some of the younger French players. It has obvious benefits for the game in France.
“The standards instilled into players here at the Dragons and also at Toulouse Olympique are now finding their way into the French game as a whole and I think Elite One is moving closer to the levels that are necessary for French players to make the transition to Championship or Super League levels.
“It’s going in the right direction and progressing.”
The French Federation have appointed a new President in 54-year-old Luc Lacoste and McNamara hopes the new leader will help foster relations between the administration and Catalans and Toulouse.
He added: “The biggest thing is for the French Federation to get a connection with the two fully professional teams in us and Toulouse. It’s essential that the grass roots are linked with our clubs, and also internationally with the English game.
“There’s a momentum now of players switching between Super League and Elite One and it’s essential that we keep that going. We need people who can connect the whole of the game together here.”
Meanwhile Dragons prop Lambert Belmas has signed a new one-year contract with the club that will secure his future at the Gilbert Brutus Stadium until the end of next season.
Belmas, 23, started playing Rugby League in Carcassonne and joined the Dragons’ Academy in 2015, making his Super League debut in 2017. So far he has played 16 games for the Dragons.
“I’m really happy to have signed a new contract for the club,” said Belmas.
“After a tough season, it has been difficult for me to play some games. But a new season will start and I can’t wait to be back with my team-mates, to work hard and to make my place in the squad.”
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