Josh Drinkwater hoping for French derby in Super League

Josh Drinkwater in action for Catalans

Catalans star Josh Drinkwater is hoping Toulouse can make it a French double this weekend to increase the prospect of a local derby in Super League in 2022.

Fresh from guiding the Dragons to a maiden Grand Final at Old Trafford courtesy of a 28-10 over Hull KR, coach Steve McNamara will turn his thoughts 200 kilometres to the north-west of Perpignan on Saturday when Toulouse take on surprise semi-finalists Batley for a place in the Million Pound Game.

“There is a massive mutual respect for both clubs,” said McNamara. “Me and (Toulouse coach) Sylvain (Houles) were messaging each other today, wishing each other all the best.

“They look really strong favourites at the minute and hopefully they will continue to do that.”

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The victors at Stade Ernest Wallon will move to within 80 minutes of a place in Super League, an exciting prospect for Catalans’ Australian half-back Josh Drinkwater, who was man of the match in his side’s semi-final win over the Robins.

“It would be amazing,” he said. “Obviously I’m not from France but it would help grow the game here.

“We played them in a pre-season trial and they’ve got a great team. I know a few of the boys as well and I’ll be cheering them on.

“Hopefully they can get promoted to Super League and there will be a nice French derby next year.”

In the other semi-final on Saturday, Featherstone host Halifax, the only one of the four with previous experience of Super League.

Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse
Stade Ernest Wallon is the home of Toulouse Olympique

Josh Drinkwater wants to do it for James Maloney

Meanwhile, Drinkwater is hoping to send his Dragons half-back partner James Maloney out on a high at Old Trafford.

The 35-year-old Maloney is bringing his two-year stint with the Catalans to an end and his fellow countryman believes a Grand Final victory would provide a fitting farewell.

“He’s obviously a great bloke and we have a very good relationship off the field as well which makes it really easy,” Drinkwater said.

“Jimmy has done it all in the game, he’s a very smart footballer. Our combination has been good over the last two years.

“He’s got one more to go and we’ll be doing everything we can to send him out a winner.

“He’s had a great career and hopefully he’s got one more big game in those old legs before we send him off.”

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