The Catalan Dragons, the big improvers of the current Super League season, in third place, have continued their team-building for next year by signing one of Australia's best props, Jason Ryles.
The St George-Illawarra front-rower has been released from the remaining two years of his contract by the club's incoming coach, Wayne Bennett, and is coming to France on a three-year deal. He will be a direct replacement for the New Zealand Test prop Alex Chan, who has announced that he is retiring at the end of this season.
"We were looking for a big, strong front-rower and Jason soon became our priority," said the Catalans' general manager, Chris-tophe Levy.
The 29-year-old has 15 Test caps and has played eight times for New South Wales in the State Of Origin series. He is the second player to be signed for next season – the first under the Dragons' new coach, Kevin Walters – following the Manly centre Steve Bell, whose arrival was announced earlier this week.
For today's game against Warrington the Dragons will be without their captain, Jérôme Guisset, who has a thigh injury that threatens his involvement in the France team to play England in Toulouse next Friday. Definitely out of that game is the Pia scrum-half Maxime Greseque, who also has a thigh injury.
Warrington have travelled to France without Kevin Penny, the winger who has yet to start a game under the club's caretaker coach, James Lowes.
Penny, who made such an impact in his first season in Super League, last year, was 18th man against Hull Kingston Rovers last weekend and has not even made the 19 to travel to Perpignan this week. Rovers, who play Wakefield in today's other game, have had a depressing week with the news that Scott Murrell has joined Chev Walker in being ruled out for the season.
Huddersfield, who are at home to Harlequins tomorrow, must manage without both their regular half-backs, Luke Robinson and Kevin Brown. Both are serving suspensions.
Castleford have not succeeded in getting a work permit in time for Mitchell Sargent to make his debut against Wigan. Kirk Dixon and Scott Moore are both ruled out of the Tigers' squad by injuries. Bradford will look for their first win in five matches at home to improving Hull.
In National League One, Salford's defeat at Widnes on Thursday means that Halifax will go top if they beat Whitehaven. The Celtic Crusaders will keep in close touch if they win, as they should, at the bottom club, Dewsbury.