Catalan Dragons forward Benjamin Garcia to join Penrith Panthers in NRL
Last Updated: 10/06/15 10:06am
Catalan Dragons forward Benjamin Garcia has joined team-mate Elliott Whitehead in signing for an NRL side for next season.
Garcia, 22, has impressed in his 12 Super League appearances to date and has agreed a deal to join Penrith Panthers.
Garcia, who spent time at the Brisbane Broncos as a youth, said: "To go back to Australia and play in the NRL has always been an ambition for me. I had the opportunity this year with Penrith and I wanted to grab it with both hands.
"I know I need to keep working hard to improve, I’m still young, but it’s a great reward for all the efforts I have done while I have been with the Dragons. I would like to thank the club and the fans for all their support."
Panthers general manager of football Phil Gould said: "Benjamin's form has been outstanding for the Catalans Dragons and he attracted tremendous attention from a number of Super League clubs looking for his signature.
"He has a burning desire to make it in the NRL and we are extremely happy he has chosen Panthers as the place to pursue that opportunity. This kid can play."
It has been a meteoric rise for France international Garcia, who has played at centre and in the front row as well as his customary second-row spot already this term.
Catalans chief executive Christophe Jouffret said: "We have negotiated with Ben and his agent over the past three months and it's a big loss to us to see him leaving the club. We wish him all the best in his new challenge with Penrith in the NRL."
His fellow-second rower Whitehead is joining Canberra Raiders but the Dragons welcomed back club captain Remi Casty at the start of the year following a two-year spell with Sydney Roosters.