Paul Wellens names six dazzling Catalans Dragons stars ‘who can hurt’ St Helens in Thursday showdown

Ben Olawumi
St Helens coach Paul Wellens wary of Catalans Dragons stars

St Helens coach Paul Wellens wary of Catalans Dragons stars

St Helens boss Paul Wellens has praised the resurgence of Catalans ahead of their trip to the Totally Wicked Stadium, naming a sextet of stars his side need to watch out for.

Two years ago, the pair faced off at Old Trafford in the Grand Final, with Saints claiming the third of their four-in-a-row. The fourth came last year against Leeds, who beat Catalans in their own backyard to reach the showpiece after a disappointing season saw the Dragons finish 4th.

This year though, the tables have turned oncemore. Steve McNamara’s side once again sit top of the pile with a two-point gap to their nearest rivals Leigh, and Wellens’ men are third two points further back.

“I think you have got to be impressed by them,” said Wellens.

“They are a competitive team and have been for a number of years now, obviously they’ve got a lot of quality throughout. Catalans have a good blend of youth and experience, so they are a very well put together side.

“What they do as a team is they get the balance right. Most rugby league games are won up front, and they’ve certainly got a forward pack who can lead the way.

“On the back of that, players like Mitchell Pearce, Tyrone May, Sam Tomkins, they’ve got players who can hurt you. Adam Keighran is another with the season he’s having, so what you see in Catalans is a well balanced side.

“I’ve known Steve Mac a while, he’s an excellent coach and someone who is very diligent in the way he goes about his preparation. I think that’s reflected in their performances.”

St Helens chief shocked by Dragons’ recent defeat

Wellens also expressed his surprise at Catalans’ home defeat to strugglers Huddersfield last week.

Ian Watson’s Giants became just the second team this year to earn a Super League victory in the South of France. Warrington were the previous to do so back in April, also beating the Dragons at the State Gilbert Brutus the following month in the Challenge Cup.

The Saints coach added: “I think it’s a surprising result every time Catalans lose at home because it’s a very tough place to go. It’s a very difficult environment to get a result in.

“One thing that isn’t surprising though is the fact that Super League has been very unpredictable this year. You look at Huddersfield and although they’ve had their problems, when you look at their team then it really shouldn’t be a surprise they’ve gone there and got a result.

“It’s probably a sign of where Super League is at this year in terms of the inconsistencies in terms of results and performances.”

Winger warning

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Catalans are the top points scorers in Super League at present. With 490 to their name after 18 rounds, McNamara’s side average over 27 points per game.

Even in last week’s defeat, 14 more were still notched by the French outfit.

And ahead of Thursday night’s meeting, Wellens acknowledged his side would be hard-pushed to stop that figure reaching the 500 mark, largely due to the threats on the wings via Tom Davies and Tom Johnstone. Between that pair, they’ve already got 31 tries on the board this term solely in league action.

Wellens said: “The two Toms that they’ve got on the wings are both having great years. It helps having Keighran there for them in the centre as well.

“The progression that young [Arthur] Romano has made over there as a young French player has been impressive as well.

“They’ve got a strong team and a big forward pack that’s tough to handle, but they’ve also got a lot of strike out wide that can hurt you as well.”

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