Like a fine wine...
Bill Arthur meets Catalan's coach Laurent Frayssinous and catches up with the ageless David Ferriol.
Last Updated: 22/01/13 5:05pm
Just when it seemed it was safe to go back in the water......
I was wrong when I suggested that the former Catalan Dragon prop David Ferriol had returned to his former team Limoux, having left the Perpignan club. It seems that he has hung up his boots altogether and is devoting his attentions to the family vineyard.
But, as well as working at Domaine Ferriol producing some excellent wines, the man known as "Fefe" in the French game is keeping fit and looks as though he could pull on a Dragons jersey and step back onto the pitch if the call came.
When we arrived at the Stade Gilbert Brutus last week to film some interviews there was the 33 year old French international. He wasn't out on the pitch training with the Dragons but he had been in the gym and, when I asked him if he was planning a comeback already, he laughed and said no, he was just keeping fit. But Ferriol looked as though he could drop the pruning shears and step back into the Super League arena if the Catalan club had injury problems and the call came.
In fact the team has injury problems already with two key performers out of action for the start of the season. The big concern is Scott Dureau, who is back home in Australia recovering from surgery, having had a tumour removed from behind his eye. According to the new Dragons coach Laurent Frayssinous, the operation, which took place in Sydney at the start of this month, was a success and the Dragons hope that their scrum half can re-join them soon. When he'll play again is another question but Frayssinous, who has succeeded Trent Robinson as the Dragons coach, has no doubt that the former Newcastle Knight has the courage, determination and strength of character to recover from the operation.
The other absentee from the Dragons side at the start of the season will be Lopini Paea who has also undergone surgery in the close season. The prop forward ended the 2012 campaign with a knee injury and he's had to have an operation to clear up the problem. He's back in France now to continue his rehabilitation, but it'll be several weeks before he's ready to return to first team action.
So it's handy having somebody like David Ferriol lurking around the place, ready to pull the boots on again if needed. He's 33 years old now but, as Adrian Morley and Jamie Peacock continue to demonstrate, prop forwards seem to be like a good wine, improving with age. And Ferriol should know all about that.
A new start
Having Dureau and Paea missing for the start of the season is a blow for the new Dragons coach, but Laurent Frayssinous was pretty calm and philosophical about the situation when we interviewed him for the first Boots 'n' All of the new Super League season. He's the first French coach of the Catalan club, having played for them when they first came into Super League. In fact he was at full back for their very first game, a momentous night in February 2006 in Perpignan, when they beat Wigan 38-30, scoring one of the Dragon's tries.
The Dragons Director of rugby at that time was David Waite and he's back at the club again, acting as assistant to his former player with Jerome Guisset - another member of that 2006 side - still on the coaching staff. The fact that Laurent Frayssinous has gone on to become head coach at the club is really pleasing for Waite, as he was the man who, in his time at the RFL, worked hard to improve the sport's coaching structure.
After finishing fourth last season and pushing champions Leeds all the way in the play offs, the new Catalan coach will be hoping for another big season but he knows their opening game at Hull KR will be a tricky one. No doubt the temperature at Craven Park will be minus something and the Dragons will be minus Dureau, their Dream Team star.