FOOTY boots. Check. Mouthguard. Check. Warm clothes. Check.
Oh, and one other essential – fishing rod. Check.
AS Carcassonne front rower Oliver Percy’s packing list before venturing to France must have looked a little something like that.
The former Gold Coast Titans Holden Cup player is an avid fisherman and wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to wet a line in the rivers and streams around the fortified city of Carcassonne in the south of France.
“Back home I’ve got a boat so I’m out every weekend fishing and crabbing with Friendy (Albi Tigers recruit Zach Friend),” Percy said.
“Probably one of the things I miss most about Australia is my boat and going fishing.
“I brought a fishing rod with me in case I went fishing over here, not that I planned on doing a whole lot of fishing over here. I just thought I might get a chance.
“It’s my hobby away from footy. I thought why not bring a good rod from home.”
In former France hooker and Carcassonne teammate Christophe Moly he’s found a fellow fishing enthusiast.
The pair have been out in Moly’s boat on a few occasions trawling the Aude region’s rivers and streams in search of the next big catch.
“I’ve been a few times here. Christophe Moly, our hooker, has taken me out on his boat and we’ve caught a few fish. It’s been good. I still miss my boat though,” he said.
“I’ve been fishing in the rivers around here and caught a few perch, and we went up to some lake around Limoux. We’ve always caught fish. I’ve caught a pike, a sander and a perch over here.”
Percy, 22, will lead Carcassonne’s charge in Sunday’s French Federation of Rugby League’s Elite 1 match against Lezignan Sangliers while his mum Barbara, who is visiting from Australia, watches on from the Stade Moulin stands.
A win over their local rivals would seal second place for the club, and provide them with the opportunity to unseat competition leaders Limoux Grizzlies with one match remaining in the season.
A Grafton Ghosts junior, Percy was a regular in junior representative sides before linking with the Titans in under-18s.
He and three Grafton-based teammates would make the 250km trek up the Pacific Highway to the Gold Coast for training twice a week.
She (Emily) loves the lifestyle. She’s a little social butterfly. I love it here. I can just go into centre ville, or into the markets, and have a coffee. It sure beats working. – Oliver Percy
He was rewarded for his efforts and progressed up through the Titans Holden Cup team into the Intrust Super Cup with the Tweed Heads Seagulls.
With a shot in the NRL out of the picture in the immediate future, Percy decided to use his rugby league skills to explore the world.
He contacted Australian-based French rugby league agent Olivier Guillibaud and before long his bags were packed and he was headed to Carcassonne.
For the most part he was venturing into the unknown, however he’d spoken to a few teammates who had played in the FFR XIII’s Elite 1 competition in the past.
They’d explained to him the great lifestyle that would await him, but warned of the expectations placed on foreign players.
“I didn’t have too many expectations. Everyone I spoke to about it said how good it was,” Percy said.
“They all said if you play good it’ll all be good, but if you don’t they’ll give you a hard time. I think that’s fair enough though.
“I’ve played every game since I’ve been here so it’s been pretty good. They’ve definitely got the life made here with the siestas – it’s a pretty cruisy lifestyle.”
The breezy days and long lunches with girlfriend Emily and his Carcassonne teammates were a far cry from the daily grind Percy was accustomed to in Australia.
A qualified electrician, Percy’s alarm would sound at the crack of dawn in Australia ahead of a long day on the tools.
From work he’d head to the gym, to training, back home for dinner, and then off to bed to get a good night’s sleep before doing it all again the next day.
“(Teammate and housemate) Lillian Albert, he pretty much slept until lunchtime when I first got here and I was up at 6 o’clock just twiddling my thumbs because I was used to getting up early,” Percy said.
“At home I was up at the crack of dawn and then I’d work 10 hours a day and then trained and played footy on the weekends – it was just never ending.”
While he’s enjoying his footy here, it’s the combination of the French culture and lifestyle that has Percy and Emily keen on spending another season at Carcassonne.
“She loves it. She’s friends with all the players’ girlfriends and has made a few other friends,” Percy said.
“She loves the lifestyle. She’s a little social butterfly. I love it here. I can just go into centre ville, or into the markets, and have a coffee. It sure beats working.
“I’m hoping to stay through the summer and get a contract for next season so I can do some travelling, get a good preseason and hopefully have a good season next year.”