Super League 2019 Preview: A good start can turn Catalans into contenders

James Gordon

Catalans became only the sixth club to win one of the two major finals in the last 15 years and they’ll be hoping to use that as a springboard to Super League success.

They recovered from a dismal start to 2018 to improve considerably in the league, avoiding the bottom four from which they very nearly were relegated the previous campaign, and used that form to take them to Wembley where they pulled off a famous win over Warrington.

They have largely retained their squad from that successful day, with the most high profile departure that of Josh Drinkwater, who had only been signed on a short-term deal to replace the retired Luke Walsh.

Matty Smith, a Super League winner already, comes in from St Helens to take over the reigns as main playmaker, desperate to put behind him an unusual year as a bit part player at the league leaders.

Another champion, Sam Tomkins, arrives from Wigan to make it perhaps two of the biggest signings the Dragons have made in their 14 years of Super League – particularly Tomkins, who they may view as the key to dragging them in to the play-offs and maybe more.

A third Englishman joins the ranks in highly-rated back-rower Matt Whitley, who arrives from relegated Widnes.

With no World Cup hangover like last season, getting off to a good start will be crucial for the Dragons – and with the mouth-watering clash with Wigan at Barcelona’s Nou Camp in May, it would be a fantastic opportunity for Catalans and French rugby league if they were to be serious title contenders in 2019.

Tomkins said: “Having that first taste of silverware is huge for the club, but I think all that does is make you hungry to win more.

“I’ve experienced that at Wigan in 2010, we won our first trophy, then we needed more. We won 11, 12, 13 and went on and on.

“Hopefully we follow that same trend at the Dragons. It’s a great club and very passionate people, and they deserve silveware and they’ve got a bit, and we don’t give up that Challenge Cup back, we want something to put in the trophy cabinet.”

Catalans open their Super League campaign with a trip to Castleford on Friday night.

Coach: Steve McNamara
Assistant: Thomas Bosc
Captain: Remi Casty
Key Man: Sam Tomkins
One to Watch: Alrix Da Costa

Ins: Sam Tomkins (Wigan), Matty Smith (St Helens), Matt Whitley (Widnes)

Outs: Iain Thornley (Leigh), Fouad Yaha (Agen RU), Louis Jouffret (Batley), Josh Drinkwater (Hull KR)

Squad: 1 Tony Gigot, Jodie Broughton, 3  David Mead, 4  Brayden Wiliame, 5  Lewis Tierney, 6  Samisoni Langi, 7  Matty Smith, 8  Rémi Casty, 9  Micky McIlorum, 10  Sam Moa, 11  Kenny Edwards, 12  Benjamin Garcia, 13  Greg Bird, 14  Julian Bousquet, 15  Mickael Simon, 16  Benjamin Jullien, 17  Matt Whitley, 18  Alrix Da Costa, 19  Mickael Goudemand, 20  Lambert Belmas, 21  Paul Séguier, 22  Lucas Albert, 23  Antoni Maria, 24  Jason Baitieri, 25  Arthur Romano, 26  Arthur Mourgue, 29  Sam Tomkins

Prediction: 6th