Wigan have confirmed the capture of French prop Romain Navarrete on a two-year contract.
The 22-year-old, who will join Wigan ahead of the 2017 season, made his Super League debut for Catalans this season and caught Shaun Wane’s eye in his 11 games.
He played in the Dragons’ last game of the season, at Wigan, and fans may get a chance to see the former Pia, Limoux and Hemel Stags forward in action later this month after he was named in the French squad to face England in Avignon on October 22.
He said: “I’m very happy to have signed for Wigan Warriors. As soon I knew that Wigan were interested, they were the only team that I wanted to sign for.
“To me, Wigan is the biggest club in rugby league and it will be an honour to pull on the famous Cherry-and-White jersey next year.
“I look forward to working with Shaun Wane and the players at Wigan.”
Navarrete, who speaks good English, becomes Wigan’s first French signing since Jerome Guisset more than a decade ago.
He is their third signing for next season – and the first not to have played for Wigan before – after Thomas Leuluai and Joe Burgess.
His Catalans team-mate Morgan Escare is also on their radar.
Wane said: “We’re very excited by what we’ve already seen of Romain. He runs the ball hard and is exactly the type of player that I like to have in our front row.
“He’s a robust prop and has shown a lot of maturity in his performances during this season for the Catalans, including his recent game against Wigan at the DW Stadium.”
Wigan have plenty of competition for front-row spots, and Navarrete’s capture will only fuel rumours that Lee Mossop’s future lies elsewhere.
He fits the mould of many of the club’s recent signings – young players who the coaches feel they can develop.
Anthony Gelling, Dan Sarginson, Ben Flower and John Bateman are among those who have been recruited from poorer clubs.
Chairman Ian Lenagan said: “We have a strategy at Wigan to monitor young players and athletes from all corners of the game for exceptional potential and to bring in one or two each year to flourish and improve significantly here at Wigan. Recent examples include Dan Sarginson, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling and John Bateman who were recruited to Wigan as young, inexperienced players and have developed into top quality international-standard players during their time at the club.
“We believe that Romain has the potential to do the same and to become an exceptional first team player for Wigan.”