The long and rich history of Featherstone Rovers Rugby League Football Club

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Max Greseque

Featherstone made a slow start to the 2004 season under coach Gary Price, and were outside the playoffs when champions-elect Leigh came to Post Office Road in July and inflicted an astonishing 75-20 defeat on the shell-shocked Rovers. The half-back situation was just one of a number of problems that Leigh exposed that afternoon. Having started the season with veteran Carl Briggs at seven and young Jon Presley at six, Price moved Presley to scrum-half and was using back-rower Richard Blakeway as a makeshift stand-off. Something needed to be done to salvage the season and with a two week break before the next fixture, Rovers took the bold step of bringing in promising French scrum-half Max Greseque. He was a young player who was attracting a lot of attention from top clubs despite never having played outside the domestic French competition. He was born in Perpignan and played for UTC where his father Ivan had also made a name for himself as an international scrum-half, and then as head coach and national coach after finishing playing. When Ivan left the coaching staff at UTC, Max moved to Pia Donkeys.

 Pia finished their season in June, and Greseque was free to join Featherstone. The signing immediately created a buzz about the town, following on from the tremendous impact Fred Banquet and Danny Divet had at the club in the early 1990s.  Max made his debut off the bench at Rochdale in July, but Rovers only managed a draw. His first start, which came the week after, brought two tries in a big win against Keighley, and set up the rest of the season. Rovers qualified for the playoffs in fifth place, and with Max calling the shots, we pulled off notable victories, 33-28 at Oldham and 19-18 at Hull KR, before falling one game short of the grand-final at Whitehaven. Greseque played 11 games in total , scoring three tries, and kicking 17 goals and 3 drop-goals, including the match-winner at Hull KR.

 His eye-catching performances turned Max into a hot property. The club tried hard to secure his services longer term, but with University studies to finish in France, his return was never likely to happen. Widely regarded as France’s number one scrum-half, many people assumed that the formation of the Catalan Dragons, who entered Super League in 2006, would lead to Max playing at the top level in England. It just never happened. Instead he played just a couple of games for Wakefield in 2007 without settling. In the domestic French competition he won successive League and Cup doubles for Pia in 2006 and 2007, and won 28 international caps for France.