Super League Preview: Catalans Dragons

Transfers

In: Gil Dudson (Salford), Mike McMeekan (Castleford), Dean Whare (Penrith).

Out: David Mead (Brisbane), Lewis Tierney (Leigh), Remi Casty (Toulouse), Antoni Maria, Sam Moa (both Lezignan), Lucas Albert, Mika Simon (both Carcassone).

Dragons search for Casty replacement

The big question for Catalans Dragons will be who can step up to fill the shoes of veteran Remi Casty after his move to Toulouse Olympique.

Julian Bousquet looks like he will be the man for the job, whilst Benjamin Garcia has been made captain by Steve McNamara.

While the pandemic has posed challenges for all clubs, as the only two sides based outside England, it’s been especially problematic for Catalans and Toulouse.

The pair met in a pre-season match, and while the Dragons recovered from a poor first half to run out 40-28 winners, coach McNamara says there is still a lot of work to do.

French regulations prevented Catalans returning to training until the start of March, so they could well be play catch-up when the new campaign starts.

“Contact is probably the one area where we’re behind. Other clubs have had a lot of sessions and it’s a different fatigue,” said the Dragons boss.

“I’d say a month is the minimum time it takes for players to get adjusted but we’ll be fine, we’re confident we’ll be as ready as we can be for round one.”

The club is still playing the waiting game over Israel Folau, who remains in Australia and hasn’t yet been allocated a squad number.

The 31-year old dual-code international is still Down Under tending to pressing family matters and, with the new Super League season almost here, the Dragons are preparing for life without him.

However, the French side say the door will remain open.

“The numbers aren’t really an issue for him,” football manager Alex Chan – who is in constant dialogue with Folau - told canberratimes.com. “We still anticipate he’s going to return at some point.

“When, we’re not sure. At the moment, we don’t want to put any more pressure on him than he’s got already at home so we’ll just keep moving and prepare for our season.”

Buoyed by players such as Sam Tomkins, the Dragons will be hoping to go close to repeating their fourth place finish last season. Fouad Yaha scored a hat-trick in that pre-season win over Toulouse and will be hoping to take that form into their Round One match against Hull KR at Headingly.

Prediction

The Catalan Dragons will be hoping to build on their excellent fourth place finish last campaign.

The French outfit spent the majority of the last 12 months over in the UK due to COVID regulations and will be hopeful for a return to the Stade Gilbert Brutus at some point in the upcoming season.

The Dragons have had a quiet off-season in terms of incomings, whilst the departure of Remi Casty will be a huge blow to the changing room.

The underwhelming James Maloney will have to step up to the plate if the Dragons are to challenge again this year, but even still, their poor recruiting could see them fall just short of the six.

VAVEL Predicts - 7th

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