“I sprinted for the fence!” New Catalans signing on surreal start to life in Super League

James Gordon
Matt Ikuvalu

Picture by Rémi Vignaud/Catalans Dragons/SWpix.com

Catalans centre Matt Ikuvalu got off to the perfect start in his new colours, scoring a try on debut as the Dragons beat St Helens 24-12 on Friday night.

Ikuvalu, 29, was caught up in one of the most bizarre pre-match incidents in rugby league history, as a bull that was being paraded around the Stade Gilbert Brutus broke loose from its handler.

It headed towards Ikuvalu and his Dragons team-mates, who were warming up on the pitch in their red warm-up shirts.

Players could be seen scrambling for the sidelines, with captain Ben Garcia one caught on camera scrambling over a fence and in to the front row of the stand.

MORE: Watch: Catalans players run for cover in extraordinary pre-match incident involving a bull?!

Fortunately, no one was harmed in the incident which was caught by the Sky Sports cameras and ended up going viral, published in multiple national and international media outlets.

It was another footnote to an exciting new chapter in Ikuvalu’s career, following his arrival from Cronulla Sharks in recent weeks.

Ikuvalu told Sky Sports: “You would have seen me sprinting over the fence it was coming that close! It was definitely a different start to the game for me.

“I feel really good. It’s still a bit surreal. It’s been a whirlwind 10 days, bringing my family half way across the world.

“Now we’re here, it’s amazing. The club has welcomed me with open arms and I’m loving it.

“My lungs were burning in that first 10 or 15 minutes I was struggling. It’s so fast, it was such a good game too, and I’m relieved to go up against the best team in the competition.”

Ikuvalu scored Catalans’ second try, moments after Konrad Hurrell had been sent to the sinbin, to complete their comeback from 12-0 down to level things up at half time.

The Dragons added 12 more unanswered points after the break to secure victory and consolidate fourth spot in the table.

Coach Steve McNamara was pleased with the impact of Ikuvalu, as well as being able to get his other centre, Adam Keighran, in place too.

Due to the Dragons injury struggles, Keighran has largely featured at stand-off since his arrival in the off-season.

McNamara said: “Matt’s done really well. He was cramping up a little bit as he’s not played too much, but he did a really good job for us.

“It’s only the second game Adam’s been able to play in his position so we’re pleased with that.”

Arthur Mourgue danced through off a clever step and pass by Sam Tomkins in the first half, while a second half brace from winger Tom Davies secured Catalans’ seventh win from 11 league games so far.

MORE: It’s what SL is about: Catalans win over St Helens ‘huge’ following a bad moment for French rugby league