Dureau prepares for comeback
Scott Dureau will make his comeback from a life-threatening illness for Catalan Dragons at the Magic Weekend on Saturday and, at the same time, begin a push for a World Cup spot with his adopted France.
The 26-year-old Australian has not played since discovering a tumour during a routine eye examination last year, but he underwent surgery in January to remove it and was this week given the all-clear to resume his career.
The return of Dureau for the opening game of the Magic Weekend against London Broncos is a timely tonic for the double-chasing Catalans and is also set to boost France in the end-of-season World Cup.
By October, Dureau, who was named in the Super League Dream Team in each of his first two seasons with the Dragons, will qualify under the three-year residency rule and, according to team-mate Olivier Elima, has been put forward for selection by the senior French internationals.
Elima, who has been captain of France for the last three years, reveals that newly-appointed national coach Richard Agar handed over the responsibility for determining the controversial selection policy to the senior group.
After having Australians Justin Murphy, John Wilson, Jared Taylor and James Wynne foisted on them at the 2008 World Cup by then coach John Monie, Elima was delighted with Agar's different approach.
"Richard didn't want to impose players on us if they're not going to fit into the group," Elima said. "He was very open about it.
"He asked us what we thought about who we might bring in and we talked between the senior players about what we wanted to do.
"In 2008 we had a pretty poor campaign. We didn't have a say on who was going to be in the team and everyone was not happy with what happened.
"There was quite a few Australians who weren't into the French culture. We didn't want to make the same mistake.
"So we discussed which players fit into the French way of life and Scott Dureau is the only one who hasn't played before."
Elima says that former Catalan full-back Clint Greenshields, now playing reserve-grade with North Queensland Cowboys, remains in contention after representing France in the 2009 Four Nations Series.
Dureau has five months to get himself in shape for the World Cup and Elima is confident that he, too, will have enough time to get over his current injury.
Surgeons had to re-attach the tendon in his bicep after the former Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Castleford Tigers and Bradford Bulls second rower suffered a rupture in the Dragons' match at Hull FC six weeks ago.
"I was told I'd be out for four months so I'm not quite halfway through but it's getting a lot better," he said.
"I don't have the cast on any more and I'm seeing the surgeon on Friday, so hopefully he'll give me some good news.
"I had the operation on April 11 so I should be back on August 11 and that will give me time to get into shape for the play-offs and then the World Cup."
Elima is also hoping to have the incentive of a Wembley appearance to spur his recovery, with the Catalans through to the last eight of the Tetley's Challenge Cup.
They have been drawn at home to Hull in the quarter-finals and Elima admits he has contemplated the prospect of appearing in the final on August 24.
"It's definitely a possibility," he said. "I do think about it. I hope I would have played a game or two and got back into shape at that stage."