Dragons capture Garcia

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20th June 2013

Catalan Dragons have signed French junior international Benjamin Garcia and are aiming to lure Bradford Bulls forward Elliott Whitehead to the south of France.

Garcia, 20, a hooker or second rower, is currently playing in Australia for Brisbane Broncos' reserve team but will return to France next week to take up a two-and-a-half-year contract with the Dragons.

The former Avignon forward paid his own fare to Australia to play for Queensland Cup team Wynnum Manly, where he was named player of the year last season, and he caught the eye of the Broncos.

"I'm very happy to sign for Catalans Dragons," Garcia said. "It's a good opportunity for me to play in Super League after a great experience in Australia. I'm looking forward to joining the club."

Catalan coach Laurent Frayssinous said: "He is one of the best French players of his generation and I'm delighted to add him to our squad.

"He is a tough player, he runs hard and he is a good tackler. He has all the basis to become a good rugby league player."

The Dragons have also confirmed they are in talks with Whitehead, the 23-year-old second rower who was placed on leave by the Bulls after submitting a transfer request.

Salford City Reds owner Marwan Koukash revealed earlier this week that he had agreed a deal with Bradford to take Whitehead to Barton but his attempt to persuade the player to make the move to Super League's basement club appears to have floundered.

Whitehead's agent is reported to have told the Bulls his client does not want to join the Reds, although coach Brian Noble said today he has not given up hope of securing his signature.

"I've spoken to Elliott on a couple of occasions," Noble said. "The decision is now with him and his agent.

"If he has other opportunities, I'm sure he's exploring them but I'm pretty confident we're going to offer him a good deal.

"And, despite Francis Cummins saying it could be a backward step, I am pretty confident that it is not."

The Dragons, who have not yet agreed a transfer fee with Bradford, see Whitehead as a potential replacement for Jamal Fakir, who is considering offers from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Hull KR.