Written by Stuart McLennan
French international Perrine Monsarrat will create history as the first person from her country to join the NRLW.
The 24-year-old backrower/centre, who played in the recent World Cup, was rewarded for her efforts for Central Coast Roosters in the last NSW Premiership season by receiving a development contract at the Sydney Roosters for the 2023 season.
Monsaratt’s Racing Club Lescure Arthes XIII team mate, Lauréane Biville, came to Australia with the intention of gaining an NRLW contract but had to return home early in April 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite her own disappointment Biville said she is happy for her friend who was referred to Roosters NRLW coach John Strange by Trent Robinson who has a second role as France Director of Rugby.
“I think it’s the best thing that could happen to her” Biville said
“She deserves it more than anybody else. She dreams of being a full time athlete. Rugby league is her life. She wakes up, eats, sleeps rugby league and always wants to get better. I’m super proud and happy Trent Robinson gave her this opportunity.”
Monsarrat told Everything Rugby League she would have liked to have shared the Australian experience with her friend and teammate but it looks unlikely to happen.
“I think we would have liked to share this experience together as we were able to share the World Cup together but unfortunately for administrative reasons she does not yet have the possibility of returning here.
“But she pushed and advised me a lot before leaving by sharing her experience with me. My coming to Australia is not inspired by Lauréane, it is the goal of any lover of ‘13’ (rugby league) in my opinion and it was an ambition since I was young, I was lucky to have an opportunity to come to Sydney and seized it.”
The qualified accountant, who is currently working part time as a receptionist at Easts Leagues Club so she can concentrate on training and physical preparation, has been impressed by the professional approach to rugby league in Australia and feels she has learned a lot since she arrived in Australia in February this year.
The level and quality of Australian rugby is incredible and I think it is many years ahead of that of France in terms of play, development and coaching.
“Playing in Australia is really interesting, the speed of play, intensity, technique and competition between players is much higher than in France and changes the level of all.
“It took a lot of work from my arrival to reach the level of play here and I still continue to work hard today to earn my place elsewhere, but I’m still grateful to be able to live all this experience and to be able to to be the first French woman to join the NRLW.”
Monsaratt will not only use her learning and experience in Australia to advance herself as a player, she is hoping it will also contribute to the fortunes of her national team leading into the next World Cup.
“My ambitions for this season are to be able to raise my level and work to be a better player by learning as much as possible, I am lucky to be surrounded by incredible players, who have experience and a very impressive level and who bring me a lot in my learning, I realise how lucky I am to be able to share these moments with them, it’s a dream!
“My goal for next season would ideally be to get a NRLW contract so that I can put into practice and show all the work done this season.
“I also have collective objectives such as being able to bring all my experience to my French team and being able to pass on everything that I have learned here so that perhaps I can prepare differently for the 2025 World Cup, which is obviously also an objective.
“Our French team suffered a lot of departures after the World Cup and many new girls made their debut in the team. We have a lot of work to get to know each other on the field and play relaxed. The current staff, which is also new, is putting everything in place to be able to rebuild this team in a dynamic of improving the level of each player to have the team as competitive as possible at the World Cup.
“We know that the road is long but the girls are very motivated to work and prepare individually and collectively.
The team has a lot of young players, which is a plus because we will be able to grow and develop this French team over time all together.”