Wakefield Trinity boss Mark Applegarth confirms extended trials for French duo: ‘Both valuable additions’

Ben Olawumi
Hugo Salabio Wakefield Trinity News Images

Photo: Mark Cosgrove/News Images

Mark Applegarth has confirmed that he will have French pair Romain Franco and Hugo Salabio in Wakefield Trinity’s ranks until the end of the season.

The former Catalans Dragons duo both penned initial month-long trials at Belle Vue which were due to run until the end of June.

On debut against Leeds Rhinos though, prop Salabio saw red for a ‘suplex-like’ tackle on Richie Myler and subsequently received a seven-match ban.

Winger Franco then picked up a shoulder injury away against Hull KR in the following game, and has been sat on the sidelines ever since, missing the last three.

Trinity earlier this week bolstered their squad with the addition of Josh Griffin, another player who is currently serving a ban. All three will soon be back in contention however, with Applegarth revealing the extended deals for the Frenchmen.

Extended trials for French duo at Belle Vue

Speaking ahead of his side’s defeat to Huddersfield Giants, Applegarth said: “They are going to be with us until the end of the year now.

“Romain’s shoulder is coming on really nice, we got a bit of good news on him because we thought he may need surgery, but he[s getting managed conservatively and he’s been coming on really well.

Hugo has still got his ban to serve, but he’s been training hard, and they are both valuable additions.

“I thought they were both looking good in that period of training before they both got injured and banned respectively.”

French duo will soon be back in action

Despite their defeat on Friday night against the Giants, Wakefield remain within touching distance of Castleford Tigers. Their relegation rivals were also beaten, with Tony Smith’s Hull FC comfortable winners yesterday at the MKM Stadium.

Those results mean it’s still a two-point ball game, and Super League’s bottom two face off next month. Like Griffin, Salabio will be available for that huge encounter courtesy of being able to serve a game of his suspension via a reserve fixture next weekend.

Franco will also be back in contention for Cas’ visit to Belle Vue, while Luke Gale will almost definitely be fit again to face his former side as confirmed earlier this week.

The 2017 Man of Steel suffered a freak ankle injury in training. He’s in contention for a sooner return, and could be back when they face Warrington Wolves in a fortnight’s time.

The Wakefield chief added: “I believe so (that Salabio is back for Castleford), I can’t remember off the top of my head so I’ll have to check the notes on my whiteboard.

“It was seven games, so it should be around then because I think we can count next week when there’s a reserve game, so that’ll count towards the ban.

“I’m not sure [on Romain], I’ve still got to wait on the medical staff for that. He did the warm-up with the lads today for the team run, but he can’t do any passing and contact yet so that’s a good sign that he is back on the field.

“We’ll have to see how his shoulder responds to running first before we get him into the passing and all that sort of jazz.

“There’s a very strong possibility [of Gale returning]. I wouldn’t say it’s the best outcome, but it’s definitely a positive one. He’s had previous surgery in that area and it sounds like the surgery has done its job.

“It was really good news for us, so all being well, if he responds to his treatment, he should be in contention for the Warrington game.”

Wakefield Trinity’s French resistance

Franco, who turned 25 last month, had been playing for Catalans’ reserve team St Esteve in the French Elite Championship before joining Wakefield. He had previously made seven Super League appearances, scoring a try on debut against Hull KR in 2021. The pacy winger has represented Spain internationally as well as France B.

Salabio meanwhile will turn 23 before the end of July. His one Super League appearance prior to the ill-fated Trinity debut came against Wigan Warriors for Catalans last season.

The prop also featured twice for Toulouse Olympique in 2021 as they stormed to success in the Championship. Most recently though, Salabio had been representing Pia Donkeys.

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