Sam Tomkins says Perpignan is gripped by Super League semi-final fever as Catalans Dragons eye a maiden Grand Final appearance.
The French club’s epic 31-30 win over defending champions St Helens at the Magic Weekend clinched a first League Leaders’ Shield and put them within 80 minutes of a trip to Old Trafford.
Their semi-final is guaranteed to be a sell-out at Stade Gilbert Brutus on Thursday, September 30, against the lowest-ranked winner of the elimination play-offs.
Before then, the Catalans have two rounds of Super League to complete, the first of which is against Huddersfield in Perpignan on Saturday evening, but Tomkins admits it is difficult not to look ahead.
“Everyone is buzzing for the semi-final, more than anything,” said the former Wigan full-back.
“We got back to Perpignan at 3am on Sunday morning and there were fans waiting to clap us out of the airport, which was nice.
“It means a lot to people here. When you’re walking around the street, everybody is talking about the semi-final at home. The League Leaders is really nice but the big trophy in October is what we’re really focusing on.”
The French club will be presented with the League Leaders’ Shield after Saturday’s game and Tomkins is confident it will not be an anti-climax.
“We’ve got two games before the semi-final but the best way to prepare is to keep momentum going,” said the England captain, who is one of a host of senior players rested for the game. “We’re not going to throw away two games.
“Some players will be rested at different times I think but our main focus is keeping the momentum we’ve got.
“We don’t want to slacken off, we want to finish the regular rounds well, have a week off and then it starts again, one big game.
“We’ve got a pretty healthy squad and, if there is a chance to put some young kids in, I’m sure Steve (McNamara) will do that but, whatever team is played, it will be plenty strong enough to win these last two games.”