Warrington Wolves’ week-long trip to France explained as Sam Burgess reveals Catalans camp insight

Drew Darbyshire
Sam Burgess Warrington Wolves Alamy

Warrington Wolves head coach Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess and his Warrington Wolves side have spent the full week in the south of France prior to Saturday’s blockbuster with Catalans Dragons.

The Wire squad flew to France on Monday morning, less than 24 hours after thrashing Huddersfield Giants 46-10 to reach the Challenge Cup final at Wembley on June 8.

Whilst many other Super League clubs had pre-season training camps in warmer climates, Warrington didn’t. Instead, Burgess took his troops to one of Ant Middleton’s Army camps in Kent.

Burgess says it was always the plan to spend the full week in Canet leading up to Saturday’s clash with Catalans, who they have lost twice to this season: once on English shores and the other across the Channel in the opening round.

“We’ve basically taken the week we would have had in England and brought it to France,” Burgess said on Wednesday in conversation with the media.

“I’d planned in my head to be in this position as I thought we’d had a fair enough pre-season to put us in a positive position.

“I thought it would be a good time to get the players together, but we keep business as business as always. That’s the most important thing.

“It allows us to spend a bit more time together socially and we’re in warmer weather. Our consistency of training and preparation has been the same. Nothing has really changed. We’ve had great facilities to use and everything has gone well so far.”

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Canet camp keeping spirits high amongst Challenge Cup finalists Warrington Wolves

Paul Vaughan Warrington Wolves Alamy
Warrington duo Jordy Crowther (left) and Paul Vaughan (right) celebrating their Challenge Cup semi-final win with the travelling Wire faithful

Burgess was keen to reiterate that the team are there for business, with the sole objective being to come away from Perpignan with two points on Saturday night. However, the warmer weather in Canet has given the squad the opportunity to do some things they wouldn’t normally get chance to do at their training complex in Cheshire.

“I’m looking at the beach here, with the ocean and some nice sand – there’s not much of that in Warrington!” Burgess joked. “It’s a great opportunity in the middle of the year to give the guys a different environment.

“It’s a very long year, so I just felt it’s a good time for us to get away and get some training done in a different climate. Then for our downtime, we’ve got access to things like pools and the beach, the boys can walk out and get a coffee together, we’ve made sure they’ve got the right food and things like that.

“Our physios are out here – we’re a third of the way through the year and the boys are busted so it’s all hands on deck getting guys as much physio and treatment as they need.”

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Sam Burgess: ‘We’re here for business, that’s the prize we want’

Whilst they are training through the day, being in camp together over the week gives the players the opportunity to bond more as a collective and enjoy a bit of downtime together.

“It’s been pretty relaxed – a few of the guys have been playing cards, there’s pool tables and table tennis tables and things like that,” Burgess added.

“We eat together, we’ve had a few meetings around that but it’s been very low-key socially. We had a penalty shoot-out for who buys the ice creams after dinner.. The Aussies struggled – I wouldn’t say they’re naturally brilliant at football. Stef Ratchford fancies himself as a footballer, Joe Bullock too. I’m average at best!

“The time together is enjoyable as the lads enjoy each other’s company. The travel aspect is always fun as well, going through airports and getting on buses with music on and plenty of laughter. It’s been a nice few days but at the end of the day, we’re here for business. That’s the prize we want.”

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A tough test awaits the Wolves

Burgess is aware of the threat that Steve McNamara’s side pose, with the Dragons having beaten Warrington in both of their previous meetings so far in Super League this season.

“They’re a physical side and they’re consistent,” Burgess acknowledged. “They’re in that top bracket of teams and they have some really exciting players like Arthur Mourgue, Jordan Abdull’s been going well for them and both wingers are dominant.

“We’re expecting a physical game – they’ve got a big forward pack. Round One was a good eye-opener for me as I was surprised by the physicality. That was a great contest and we’re expecting much the same.

“It will be a great atmosphere – I believe there’s 1,000 Warrington fans come over which adds to the occasion. It’s going to be great for the players to experience that.”

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