BEN Garcia admits 2022 had a big effect on him after almost losing an ear and being left close to a serious blood infection that could have seen his arm amputated.
Now he and Catalans are determined to make just as huge an impact on 2023 – as he gets over a THIRD major problem.
One that saw him lose 10 kilograms in weight, which he is still trying to get back.
Garcia needed a total of 40 stitches to reattach his ear after almost losing it at Magic Weekend, and when he played TWO weeks later.
While playing in the World Cup for France, a simple cut on his elbow sustained at Doncaster became infected and if it was not treated, he may have lost a limb – that did not stop him facing England.
And he has revealed the amount of antibiotics he took to combat that took its toll on his gut, leading to illness and drastic effects that do not need much imagination.
Garcia, who faced clubmates Sam Tomkins and Michael McIlorum and also has Mike McMeeken, Matt Whitley, Tom Davies and Tom Johnstone in Steve McNamara’s squad, said: "It was a bad infection on my arm, I’m not sure if I was right to play England but it’s part of the game.
“It was just a small scratch that got infected. It was a big infection, which would’ve been very serious had it not been treated, a blood infection.
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“Luckily we had a good doctor in the French team and it was caught just before it got into my bloodstream but I took so many antibiotics, when I got home I got an infection in my stomach.
“I’d played on as I’d taken so much medication and it affected that. It was as bad as it sounds, really bad.
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“I lost 10 kilos, so I had major treatment at the hospital after the World Cup. I think I’ve spent the last six months living on antibiotics!
“They were tough injuries and after my first ear injury, I had stitches and was back two weeks later. That wasn’t the right time.
“I’m all good but now I need to be careful about what I eat and drink for a few months.”
Now he is fit to play, while still attempting to gain weight, Garcia is eyeing a step forward on the field for the Dragons, whose season starts at Wakefield tonight.
But almost as important is what happens off it – there is still no French TV deal and work to upgrade the Stade Gilbert Brutus will start.
Encouragingly for him, though, strategic partners IMG have earmarked across the Channel as a key area for growth – now to get rugby league firmly in Paris, Marseille, Bordeaux and Lille.
Loose forward Garcia, 29, added: “Rugby league needs to open its mind.
“If it doesn’t, in a few years it may be only England and Australia, so France is the next country to develop.
“We try hard but maybe we need help to be good in a few years – the key is spreading the sport.”
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