Catalans Dragons will have to wait a while to unwrap their new present from Australia as Dean Whare flew into French quarantine today (Sunday).
Under current French virus-control measures, the 31-year-old Kiwi centre has to spend seven days in isolation before he can join his new team-mates as they prepare for the new Super League season.
“It’s frustrating,” coach Steve McNamara told League Express.
“But it’s the way of the world at the moment.
“He would have been here much sooner, but there was much more red tape involved than usual because of the Covid situation. He will have to do a week in quarantine, so he cannot train or take part in our pre-season game against Toulouse on Saturday.”
Whare has been given Israel Folau’s number four shirt at the Dragons, a tacit admission by the club that the controversial centre will not be returning to Perpignan as he continues to deal with family issues in Australia.
“There has been no change in the situation regarding Israel,” said McNamara.
“We have to focus on the job in hand, which is preparing the squad for Super League.”
The Dragons started their four-week training schedule last week and hit a winning note against a French Federation Select side on Saturday in a pre-season game that finished 50-18 to the Catalans, who fielded an entire reserves team in the second half.
“It was a good day for us,” said McNamara.
“The French team was strong and physical, especially early in the game, and it was good for us to get out there and blow some cobwebs off our senior group.
“I thought our young players were great in the second half and they showed what we are trying to do as a club in terms of our overall depth.
“Those players have been performing really well in our reserve team in the Elite One Championship this season. It’s great to see César Rougé and Arthur Mourgue in our halves and Robin Brochon at fullback playing such exciting Rugby League.
“Some of our senior players got 30 or 40 minutes in and we’re ready to go to the next stage now; we need a full 80 minutes against Toulouse next week we’ll be fielding a different team, closer to our Super League standard.
“We’ve had a good week. We knew what was in front of us pre-season, the spine of our team hasn’t changed too much and we knew how we wanted to play and what we wanted to do.
“There are plenty of teams in Super League doing opposed training sessions this week. For us, that was as good as we could get.
“We haven’t got long this pre-season, we’ve only been back as a team for a week so we’ve got to make the most of next week’s match. It won’t be as big a squad as today’s game and our first-team players will get more minutes.”
Catalans 2021 squad numbers: 1 Arthur Mourgue; 2 Tom Davies; 3 Samisoni Langi; 4 Dean Whare; 5 Fouad Yaha; 6 James Maloney; 7 Josh Drinkwater; 8 Gil Dudson; 9 Micky McIlorum; 10 Julian Bousquet; 11 Matt Whitley; 12 Mike McMeeken; 13 Benjamin Garcia; 14 Alrix Da Costa; 15 Benjamin Jullien; 16 Paul Séguier; 17 Mickael Goudemand; 18 Lambert Belmas; 19 Arthur Romano; 20 Mathieu Laguerre; 21 Corentin Le Cam; 22 Joel Tomkins; 23 Mathieu Cozza; 24 Jason Baitieri; 27 Joe Chan; 28 Sam Kasiano; 29 Sam Tomkins.
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