Catalans should tread warily when it comes to Willie Mason

Willie Mason moving to Catalans Dragons may look like one of the more interesting and glamorous transfers of the off-season, but the Perpignan club should be wary when it comes to adding the forward to their ranks.

For the last few weeks, Mason’s possible move to the Dragons has been on hold, while he waits for a Samoan passport.

Hull KR fans will be thinking that that sounds horribly familiar.

When Mason joined Hull KR in 2011, there were issues with a passport, only it was a Tongan one back then for which Mason was applying.

The situation became an absolute farce, as the passport never arrived.

That meant Mason counted on the Robins’ overseas quota, and the club’s fans were treated to the rather unedifying spectacle of the club deregistering an injured overseas player, in this case Michael Dobson, purely so that Mason could play for the club.

Mason spent much of the time waiting for the passport idle, and he looked very unfit and flabby when he did finally play his six games for Rovers.

He was soon out the door, six months into a three-year deal, when he got a better offer to go to French rugby union, where he didn’t last long before returning Down Under.

The hailing of his arrival at Hull KR, with a massive press conference and the awarding of the number 23 to Mason (so he could be like David Beckham and Michael Jordan) all turned out to be so much hubris.

It would be fair to say that the Mason signing came close to tarnishing Justin Morgan’s wonderful legacy at Rovers, and it certainly hastened Morgan’s departure.

It could also be argued that it deflated all the momentum from Rovers impressive rise to and up Super League under Morgan, and the club has not really recovered since.

So Catalans coach Laurent Frayssinous needs to be careful, should Mason’s Samoan passport eventually arrive and he is given clearance to move to France.

The last thing Catalans need is a dressing room which is not fully committed to the cause.

Their main problem remains winning away from the cosy confines of the Gilbert Brutus, in hostile stadiums in northern England.

Given Mason’s previously flakey displays in Super League, where he clearly did not respect the competition, he’s not going to bring the steel the French outfit needs.

At the age of 35 now, Mason must show that he is at the Dragons for much more than one last pay day before he retires.

Hopefully, he is a more mature, rounded character than when he was last playing in Europe. Catalans fans should certainly be praying that he is.

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