Sam Tomkins is very excited by not only the future of Catalans Dragons, but for French Rugby League as a whole.
Catalans coach Steve McNamara has made no secret of the fact that the club are running with a much younger squad this season, and Tomkins has been impressed with the young French talent at the club.
He said: “We’ve got a lot of young kids who are now a lot closer to playing Super League. Last year a few guys got a run and I think they will be even more important.
“There is a young lad – Mathieu Laguerre – who is really promising. He has probably been the standout (young player) for me during pre-season. He is a young centre who is very fast and very strong. He is young and there is a lot of coaching to be done on him but I’d say he has been the one who has stood out for me. I think he’s very close to being Super League ready.
“There is a lot of young lads who I think will play this year. They’ve really ripped in in pre-season and we’ve got a much younger squad this year than we had last year.
“There were a few senior players who had done a great job for the club for a long time who moved on and some of the young kids that have got their chance this year to get a few games under their belts.”
England international Tomkins regularly watches the club’s reserve side St Esteve, who compete in the French Elite One Championship – and he emphasised just how much French talent there is coming through.
He said: “I’m always watching the highlights of our reserves. There is some great talent in that and one player that is not fully in our squad yet is Cesar Rouge, a young half-back. I think he’ll go on to play a lot of Super League in time.
“The clips always get put up by the club on social media and from watching on the sidelines, you can see the talent that is not only in our club but across the French league.”
The Dragons played pre-season friendlies against Toulouse and the French Federation XIII, and Tomkins hopes Toulouse will be the second French club in Super League in the not too distant future.
He added: “If you just look at the squad they’ve assembled, they’ve got experience right through the squad and it was a tough test that we needed. They came out the blocks really well and got the lead on us.
“I think there is no reason why they can’t be in Super League very soon. It would be massive for the sport to have another team over here across the water first of all for French Rugby League but also for Super League.
“Super League is not really sure where it’s at, is it expanding or is it not? I think Toulouse would be a great option if they could get in. They’ve got a backing financially, great stadium, great facilities and a good squad.”