Catalans boss concedes to losing forward with return to England expected

Josh McAllister
Matt Whitley, PA

Picture by Lee Parker/Zuma Press/PA Images

Steve McNamara admits it is unlikely that Matt Whitley will be a Catalans player in 2024 with speculation linking the back-rower with a return to England.

The 27-year-old initially made the move to the south of France ahead of the 2019 season from Widnes, and is edging towards 100 appearances for the Dragons.

Whitley, an England Knights representative, is believed to be joining St Helens as reported by Examiner Live.

He signed a contract extension with the club in 2022, with an option for 2024. But he appears likely to be continuing his career in England beyond the current season.

Whitley scored twice as Catalans dominated Wigan 46-22 during Magic Weekend at St James’ Park, while Salford defeated Hull KR in the opening game in Newcastle.

Catalans confirms likely Matt Whitley exit

McNamara told Love Rugby League: “We’d love to keep Matt, but ultimately he’s got a family to think about as well and he’s dedicated his life to living in France for the last few years.

“He’s got some choices to make but we’re fully aware of the situation with Matt and we understand it. But unfortunately, I don’t think he’ll be a Catalans player next year.

“He’s an outstanding bloke. He’s been on that England fringe and goes about his work and business.”

Magic victory for Catalans

It was a dominant performance for the Dragons over Matt Peet’s Wigan in the north east, claiming a 24-8 lead at the break before crossing for four more tries in the victory.

The two points sees the French outfit move to the top of the Super League table over Warrington, who face Hull in the closing fixture on Sunday.

Tom Johnstone celebrated a hat-trick, with Sam Tomkins, Arthur Mourgue and Arthur Romano also scoring.

McNamara said post-match: “What Magic does is it gives you that feel of a big game, a final or semi-final type-scenario. You get to come and prepare differently for this kind of game and particularly a team like Wigan, it was second versus third. 

“I thought for 65% of that game I thought, I wouldn’t say perfect, but really ruthless in what we did and how we went about it.”

READ NEXT: Willie Peters provides more after Hull KR hit by triple injury blow

FOLLOW: Keep up with all the latest on the Love Rugby League mobile app