Wynnum Manly's 'French Connection' make history

Something for fans of the international game - with former Wynnum Manly Seagulls squad members Benjamin Garcia and Benjamin Jullien making history recently with their current team the Catalans Dragons.

Story via Wynnum Manly Seagulls Media

The Catalans Dragons became the first non-English speaking side to claim the United Kingdom's oldest piece of rugby league silver wear – the Challenge Cup - with at Wembley Stadium on August 25.

In a major shot in the arm for French rugby league, the Dragons claimed the trophy in front of 50,000 after defeating the Warrington Wolves in a nerve-jangling final.

For two of Catalan's brightest stars Benjamin Garcia and Benjamin Julien, the pathway to Super League stardom included stints at BMD Kougari Oval.

Wynnum Manly became a 'home away from home' for the Catalans' back row pairing as both players spent time playing for the Seagulls between 2012 – 2014.

Garcia was the first of the pair to entrench himself in the Seagulls club, arriving as an 18-year-old and residing with fellow overseas arrivals, Charlie (now with the Canberra Raiders) and Peter Gubb.

In a brave move, Garcia turned down offers from rugby union giants and Top 14 French club Toulon for a chance to apply his trade at the Seagulls playing under coaches Paul Green (Intrust Super Cup coach in 2012) and Adam Brideson (the then Colts coach).

The French international said it had a positive effect on his development.

"I learned a lot of great great discipline on the field and a strong work ethic from those involved in the club," Garcia told Wynnum Manly Seagulls Media.

"My best memory is making the grand final which was played at Suncorp Stadium!"

Ben Garcia during his Wynnum Manly Seagulls days. Photo: Supplied
Ben Garcia during his Wynnum Manly Seagulls days. Photo: Supplied

After a stellar year in 2012 which included three Intrust Super Cup games and being awarded with 'Colts Player of the Year', Garcia found the radar of the Brisbane Broncos.

He would go on to play Under 20s for the Broncos, before returning home to launch his career with the Catalan Dragons and French national side.

Garcia's backrow partner at Catalans, Benjamin Julien also made the 17,000 km trip from Perpignan to help kick start his career.

Jullien played as a Colt in 2014 before returning home to play first grade at SO Avignon, Warrington Wolves and eventually Catalans in 2018.

*Jullien was named in the France line-up to face England in their October 17 international match