Catalans prepare for unique pre-season test

James Gordon
Catalans coach Steve McNamara and Tom Davies

Picture by Laurent Selles/Catalans Dragons/

Catalans Dragons take to the field for the first time in 2023 this weekend then they host a French Elite select side at Stade Gilbert Brutus.

With Toulouse starting their Championship campaign away at Barrow on the same day, it hasn’t been possible for the two French sides in the RFL system to arrange their usual pre-season game.

That has left the Dragons to set up this alternative fixture, which they also played in the build up to the 2021 season.

A chance for young French players to impress

Coach Steve McNamara will get a closer look at six players who feature for the Dragons’ reserve side, St Esteve, in the French Elite championship.

Winger Corentin Rey, centre Paul Marty, back-rower Leo Laurent, hooker Leo Llong, prop Bastien Scimone and utility Romain Franco are all in the 21-man squad named by the French Elite selection coach Maxime Greseque.

Leo Laurent could have a breakthrough year for the Dragons in 2023. Picture by Laurent Selles/Catalans/

They are joined by former Toulouse prop Clement Boyer, now at Carcassonne, and his team-mate, prolific half-back Clement Herrero.

Two Toulouse Elite players are included, in Robin Brochon and Pierre-Jean Lima, who will no doubt be looking to catch the eye given how light the Toulouse squad for the new Championship season is looking.

Coach Greseque said: “The list of 21 players is strong. We are looking forward to Thursday to meet and prepare for this gala match against to the Dragons. The most important thing is to have fun during these two days of stage and of course during the match on Saturday in this magnificent stadium.

“This meeting is a great opportunity to prepare our breeding ground of players for the French team of tomorrow!”

A strong Catalans side put 50 points on the French Elite selection in 2021, with Tom Davies scoring two tries in a 50-18 win.

A try scorer for the opponents that day, Albi’s Tristan Dupuy, is one of only four players who featured in that game to have been chosen for this one.

The others are Boyer, Limoux hooker Justin Bouscaryol and Avignon prop Francois Dorc-Hantz.

The likes of Tony Gigot, Hakim Miloudi and Louis Jouffret all featured two years ago, and despite the latter two having returned to the French Elite Championship recently, they are not included.

That makes former Catalans and Warrington back-rower Benjamin Jullien the most recognisable name in the selection.

The game will be streamed live via the club’s official YouTube channel.

French Elite select 21-man squad:

Alan Baby (half-back, Pia), Justin Bouscayrol (hooker, Limoux), Clement Boyer (prop, Carcassonne), Robin Brochon (back, Toulouse), Louis Carre (winger, Avignon), Enzo Deltheil (prop, Villeneuve), Damel Diakhate (loose forward, Albi), Francois Dorc-Hantz (prop, Avignon) Tristan Dupuy (second row, Albi), Romain Franco (back, St Esteve), Clement Herrero (half-back, Carcassonne), Benjamin Jullien (second row, Pia), Leo Laurent (second row, St Esteve), Pierre-Jean Lima (centre, Toulouse), Leo Llong (hooker, St Esteve), Franck Maria (loose forward, Lezignan), Paul Marty (centre, St Esteve), Corentin Rey (winger, St Esteve), Bastien Scimone (prop, St Esteve), Florian Vailhen (prop, Pia), Lucas Vergniol (second row, Limoux).

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