Warrington Wolves face a tough trip to Perpignan in their opening fixture of the 2017 Super League season, as they face Catalans Dragons in round one.

Last Time Out

During pre-season Catalans Dragons suffered a humiliating defeat away to Toulouse Olympique, as a near full-strength side were beaten 22-6 by their Championship counterparts. They will take plenty more positives from their 26-22 loss at home to Wigan Warriors in their final off-season outing ahead of the new campaign, and will be hoping it was nothing more than a blip against Toulouse in their previous encounter. With teams around them strengthening they will be out to prove they are still top four challengers in 2017.

Warrington Wolves enjoyed a pre-season trip to Tenerife after defeating Widnes Vikings in the annual festive derby 28-18, and on their return faced Rochdale Hornets at the Manchester Regional Arena. It took a try and touchline conversion after the hooter had sounded for them to snatch a 24-22 victory, before they went down 12-0 to Huddersfield Giants in Ben Harrison’s testimonial. This campaign will begin just like any other for the Wolves, as they wonder if this is the year they can call their own.

Key Battle

There is plenty of quality across the field in both squads, however the hosts will be looking to get on top of the battle in the middle if they are to pick up the win here. With the explosive Sam Moa and State of Origin stalwart Greg Bird joining Louis Anderson, Remi Casty and Justin Horo in the off-season, the Dragons have plenty of fire power in their forward pack.

Ashton Sims and Chris Hill lead a pack which also includes Joe Westerman, Ben Currie and Mike Cooper so the Wolves are more than capable of matching up to their opponents in the middle. Whoever wins the arm wrestle will be able to play some expansive rugby off the back of the platform their forwards lay down, and that could be key in the result of this contest.

Prediction

The Stade Gilbert Brutus is a tough place to go, especially in round one, however Warrington have one of the competition’s strongest squads and will be hoping to bring two points back to England. Warrington Wolves by 8.

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Squads

Catalans Dragons: 1. Tony GIGOT, 2. Jodie BROUGHTON, 3. Krisnan INU, 4. Brayden WILIAME, 5. Fouad YAHA, 6. Luke WALSH, 7. Richie MYLER, 8. Sam MOA, 9. Paul AITON, 10. Rémi CASTY, 12. Justin HORO, 13. Greg BIRD, 14. Julian BOUSQUET, 15. Ben GARCIA, 16. Thomas BOSC, 17. Jason BAITIERI, 18. Vincent DUPORT, 19. Mickael SIMON, 20. Luke BURGESS

Warrington Wolves: 4 – Ryan Atkins; 21 – Matty Blythe; 9 – Daryl Clark; 14 – Mike Cooper; 17 – Dominic Crosby; 15 – Brad Dwyer; 3 – Rhys Evans; 7 – Kurt Gidley; 12 – Jack Hughes; 20 – Toby King; 2 – Tom Lineham; 28 – Harvey Livett; 22 – Dec Patton; 23 – Joe Philbin; 5 – Matty Russell; 18 – Andre Savelio; 10 – Ashton Sims; 13 – Joe Westerman; 25 – Sam Wilde

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My name is Sean Hayes. I am from Widnes, England. I am currently studying journalism at Salford University. Aspiring sports journalist and rugby league fanatic whether it is watching, playing or writing about the greatest game! Follow me on twitter @SHayesNBL