Garcia to join NRL along with Whitehead

Second-row forward Benjamin Garcia will join his Catalans Dragons team-mate Elliott Whitehead in the NRL next season after signing a two-year deal with Penrith Panthers.

22-year-old Garcia, who linked up with the Catalans from Brisbane Broncos’ reserves two years ago, has caught the eye this year after making his mark with 12 First Utility Super League appearances.

“Benjamin’s form has been outstanding for the Catalans Dragons and he attracted tremendous attention from a number of Super League clubs looking for his signature,” Panthers general manager of football Phil Gould said.

“He has a burning desire to make it in the NRL and we are extremely happy he has chosen Panthers as the place to pursue that opportunity. This kid can play.”

Garcia, who has demonstrated his versatility this year by starting matches at centre and in the front row as well as his customary second-row spot, played for France in the 2013 World Cup.

Former Bradford Bulls second rower Whitehead is joining Canberra Raiders at the end of the season while club captain Remi Casty returned at the start of the year from a two-year spell with Sydney Roosters.