Catalans Dragons Preview

Catalans Dragons Preview

Everything you need to know ahead of Sunday’s Round 8 Betfred Super League clash between Wigan Warriors and Catalans Dragons.

The Brief

Wigan Warriors host Catalans Dragons in Round 8 of the Betfred Super League at the DW Stadium on Sunday (Mother’s Day).

Both teams go into the game off the back of wins last week, as Wigan beat Salford Red Devils 30-22, while Catalans overcame Leeds Rhinos at the Stade Gilbert Brutus in Perpignan.

Adrian Lam’s side recorded their second victory of the season and will go into the game confident of creating momentum after a difficult few weeks.

Steve McNamara’s Dragons have eight points from their opening seven games and sit sixth in the Betfred Super League table.

The DW Stadium.

It’s the 2018 Super League Champions against the 2018 Challenge Cup Winners.

Will the Warriors continue where they left off against Salford or will the Dragons breathe fire on the DW Stadium?

Team News

Loose forward and 18-year-old Morgan Smithies has been named in a professional 19-man squad for the first time. Click HERE to find out more about one of Wigan’s rising stars.

Prop Tony Clubb picked up a knee injury against Salford and is expected to be out for one to two weeks. Sam Powell continues his recovery from an ankle injury and is also suspected to return in one to two weeks.

Winger Liam Marshall remains out with a knee injury, sustained in the defeat to Huddersfield Giants three weeks ago. Gabe Hamlin is unavailable for selection due to illness.

Joe Greenwood will serve a one-match ban this week, while Taulima Tautai serves the third of his three-match ban.

Here is Wigan’s 19-man squad:

The Opposition

After their 2005 application to join Super League was approved, Catalans hosted their first ever game in the top flight in February 2006 against Wigan. The Dragons took the two points in an entertaining 38-30 encounter in Perpignan.

Now led by former England and Bradford Bulls Head Coach, Steve McNamara, Catalans Dragons made history in 2018, as they become the first non-English team to win the Challenge Cup. The French side overcame Warrington Wolves in a 20-14 triumph at Wembley in August to lift their first major trophy.

Catalans lift the Challenge Cup trophy for the first time in their 19-year history.

The Dragons have had a positive start to the new season, as they have won four of their opening seven Betfred Super League games.

Catalans sit in the middle of the table and four places above Wigan.

Since taking over in 2017, Steve McNamara has won 20 of his 43 games in charge of Catalans.

Sam Moa and Greg Bird come back into contention for the Dragons at the DW Stadium on Sunday, while Antoni Maria and Lambert Belmas drop out.

Here is Catalans’ 19-man squad:

Who to Watch?

Tony Gigot

Tony Gigot is a versatile player who can play at full-back, centre or at stand-off. The 28-year-old Frenchman first signed for Catalans in 2010, before returning in 2015.

During his first year at the club, Gigot played 22 Super League games, before making the move to Toulouse Olympique, followed by other clubs such as London Broncos and Cronulla Sharks.

Since returning to the Dragons, Gigot has featured 97 times and has scored an impressive total of 40 tries.

In 2018, the Catalan back became the first French player to win the Lance Todd Trophy; the Man of the Match award in the Challenge Cup Final.

Kenny Edwards

Second row Kenny Edwards has made a serious impression on the Catalans team since joining the club in 2018.

The New-Zealand-born forward played 70 games in the NRL with Parramatta Eels for five years (2013-2018), before moving to France.

The 29-year-old’s athletic and technical qualities are an additional and important asset for the Catalan pack.

Edwards has scored nine tries in the 23 games he has played for the Dragons so far.

Key Battles

Zak Hardaker vs Sam Tomkins

Zak Hardaker has played in all seven of Wigan’s league games this season.

The full-back’s calmness and reliability under pressure has paid significant to the Warriors, as he has become a back-bone to how his side play.

Hardaker’s kicking game, as well as his burning pace and bursting breaks is vital for Wigan’s attacking threat, especially against a big Dragons outfit.

Former Warrior Sam Tomkins returns to the DW Stadium on Sunday.

After progressing through the club’s Academy system, Tomkins played over 200 games for Wigan in nine years and won three Grand Finals, two Challenge Cups and two League Leaders Shield’s.

The 30-year-old moved to France at the end of 2018 and has since played in all seven of the Dragons’ games, scoring one try.

Which of these England international full-backs will lead their team to victory?

Dom Manfredi vs Fouad Yaha

After suffering a mouth injury, Dom Manfredi returned to Warriors action last week in the win against Salford.

The winger’s pace, skill and strength will be crucial for Wigan’s right edge attack and defence.

Manfredi will be hoping he can repeat what he did against Catalans in 2015…

Fouad Yaha made his Super League debut for Catalans in 2015 and at 18-years-old, he became the youngest player at the time to have played for the Dragons in the top tier.

Yaha was a member of the Catalans team that won the 2018 Challenge Cup.

With four tries in four appearances this year, the 22-year-old is in red hot form as he prepares to face Wigan on Sunday.

Which winger will score a game-breaking try?

Joe Bullock vs Remi Casty

Following his inclusion to the England Knights Performance Squad this week, Joe Bullock prepares to play in his and Wigan’s eighth game of the Betfred Super League season.

Bullock has made a huge impact on the Warriors in 2019, as his courageous carries and big hits have seen his side gain an advantage at certain moments in particular games this season.

Click HERE to find out what Bullock had to say about facing Catalans and his international call-up.

Remi Casty can rightly be described as Mr Catalan. The prop was part of the Dragons’ Super League debut season in 2006, and has since become an integral part of the team.

The 20-time French international moved to the NRL with Sydney Roosters for one season in 2014, and he made his debut for the club in the World Club Challenge win against Wigan at the Allianz Stadium.

Casty re-joined Catalans in 2015 and now 34, the forward still plays a key role within the French team, regularly making hard yards off the interchange bench.

Who will take a strong carry and pull their team up the field?

Did You Know?

…of course you did…who didn’t?

In less than two months time (18th May), Wigan and Catalans are set to make rugby league history as they take the first ever Super League game to be played in Spain at Barcelona’s iconic Nou Camp.

The Dragons were invited to the 99,354-seater stadium by the La Liga Champions after winning the Challenge Cup in August. Catalans is based 120 miles from Barcelona in the French city of Perpignan.

Catalans have four ex-Warriors in their current First Team squad: Sam Tomkins, Michael McIlorum, Matty Smith and Lewis Tierney.

Tomkins and McIlorum featured in Wigan’s 2013 Grand Final win against Warrington, while the latter played in the Warriors’ 2016 Grand Final victory against the same opposition. Tierney is the son of Wigan legend, Jason Robinson.

French duo Morgan Escare and Romain Navarrete joined Wigan together from Catalans in 2017.

Escare has played 45 games for the Warriors since moving to England. Navarrete has featured in 42 games, as well as having a short loan spell with the Dragons for the second half of 2017.

Both Escare and Navarrete made Super League history in October 2018, as they were the first Frenchmen to play in a Grand Final.

Previous Meetings

Wigan have won their last eleven home fixtures against Catalans (including a 2015 Super 8s victory at The Den, Millwall). The Warriors last tasted defeat against the Dragons at the DW Stadium on 8th April 2011, as the French side went home 47-28 victors.

Wigan have won nine of the last ten meetings with Catalans, including five at home and four away.

The previous clash between the sides came in August 2018 in Round 2 of the old ‘Super 8s’ as the Cherry and Whites ran out 35-6 winners in Perpignan.

The last time the two sides met at the DW Stadium resulted in Wigan edging a 25-20 affair, with tries from Morgan Escare, Sam Tomkins, Joe Greenwood and Chris Hankinson.

Form Guide

Wigan put a run of four straight defeats behind them last weekend, after the 30-22 win at Salford. Adrian Lam’s side sit tenth in the Betfred Super League table, with four points from their opening seven games.

Catalans have won their last two Betfred Super League games, albeit they have been tight affairs against Hull KR and Leeds Rhinos. The Dragons’ most eye-catching victory so far in 2019 was the 23-22 triumph over Warrington, as Sam Tomkins kicked a match-winning penalty from 45 metres out.

Coach Quotes

Ahead of Sunday’s game, Adrian Lam, said: “We’ve still got a long way to go. I still think that we are four to six weeks away from being at our best.

“We are trying to get better every week with the new way that we want to play. There were certainly signs of that last week in attack and defence as well.

“Every team will have a low period during the season and we just have to rule that start to the season as ours and now it’s over and done with. We’ve got to move forward and play some good rugby.”

On Catalans, Lam said: “They are always a tough game and they’ve recruited pretty well.”

Match Officials

Sunday’s referee is James Child. The touch judges will be Clint Sharrad and Tom Grant, while the in-goal judges are Jack Pullein and Curtly Etchells.

The last time James Child refereed a Wigan versus Catalans game was in 2015 at the Stade Gilbert Brutus, as the Dragons thumped the Warriors 58-16.

James Child.

Tickets

Tickets are available from:

  • Adults - £23
  • Over 60s - £17
  • 16-21s - £16
  • Juniors for £10
  • Under 5s go free

Membership holders can get a reduced price on their match ticket. For more information, please visit our Matchday Tickets page HERE.

You can purchase your tickets in a number of ways. Call the DW Stadium ticket office on 01942 311111, visit in person or purchase online by clicking HERE.

Travel

Whether you are arriving by plane, train or automobile, you can find all the information on how to reach the DW Stadium HERE.

For those looking to catch the bus, the club has a number of organised routes to enable fans to get to the Stadium in plenty of time. You can find all of the information HERE.

How to Follow

You can follow every piece of the action on our social media channels and website.

Wigan TV

Highlights will be on Wigan TV within two hours after the game and extended highlights 24 hours later. There will also be post-match interviews available, giving Warriors fans comprehensive coverage that you’ll not find anywhere else.

Don’t forget the Under-19s are in action against Newcastle Thunder at the Robin Park Arena prior to the First Team game. Kick-off is 12pm and Season Ticket Holders and those with a match ticket for First Team game can watch the U19s for free.

The U19s fixture will be broadcast live on Wigan TV.

Sign up to today by clicking HERE.

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