A trip to the South of France awaits for Huddersfield on Saturday as they visit Catalans Dragons. Here’s everything you need to know.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Despite a mix and match close season which saw the likes of Jake Mamo and Danny Brough leave the club, Huddersfield dominated in most of their pre-season friendlies, most notably scoring half a century against local rivals Bradford Bulls in early January in Michael Lawrence’s testimonial.
After a round 1 loss, Catalans will want to start off unbeaten at home in front of their supporters, who were terrific with them in 2018. One game which I am sure will be end to end and Catalans have plenty of players at their disposal to trick the Giants into losing in the Dragons lair.
After an opening round loss at the hands of the Castleford Tigers, Steve McNamara names a side very similar to the one who were defeated at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle. Only Arthur Romano is introduced to the team, with David Mead missing out.
Gigot, Williame, Tierney, Langi, Smith, Casty, McIlurom, Moa, Edwards, Garcia, Bousquet, Simon, Jullien, Whitley, Da Costa, Goudemand, Baitieri, Romano, Tomkins.
Simon Woolford makes one change to his 19-man squad, who were beaten by Salford last time out. The only change is Aaron Murphy being reintroduced.
Huddersfield 19-man squad:
McIntosh, Turner, U’ate, Frawley, Leeming, Matagi, Murphy, Mellor, Lawrence, O’Brien, Roberts, English, Grix, Ikahihifo, Walne, Hewitt, Senior, Farrell, Wardle.
HEAD TO HEAD
Head to head, these two enjoy a game. Quite ironic how stats have it that Catalans always get the better of the Yorkshire side in France and the Giants predominently get the better of the Dragons at the John Smith’s.
Darnell McInstosh (Huddersfield) vs Sam Tomkins (Catalans)
For the second week running, the Huddersfield number 1 is shown as the key man in our match preview of Huddersfield’s round 2 fixture. Capable of playing as full back or on the wing, McIntosh was one of the Giants’ standout players towards the back end of an eventually productive 2018 campaign. His direct running and desire to defend the line and also to get over it, in the opposite sense to score, has impressed the Giants’ fans since his arrival into the squad in 2016 and this will serve as a crucial factor in his side’s performance on Friday night. With the absence of Jermaine McGillvary until spring, McIntosh will have to be on top form.
As for Catalans, Sam Tomkins is and always will be a vital signing for the French outfit. After a terrific year for the Catalans side reaching the Challenge Cup final at Wembley and winning it, the former Wigan and New Zealand Warrior is a champion player, entering a champion side in some ways. He couldn’t show his full potential as we know in Catalans’ 20-4 loss away to Castleford as the Tigers dominated the Dragons. But Tomkins is keen to make an impression in the South of France and I am sure he will be a key player in this game for McNamara’s side along with veteran Matty Smith.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday 9th February
Venue: Stade Gilbert Brutus
Kick-off: 18.00 (FRA) 17.00 (GMT)
Referee: T. Grant
WHO WILL WIN?
With both of these sides getting off to the worst possible start in round 1, Huddersfield, especially, it will be an interesting tussle over in Perpignan to see who’ll come out on top in a battle of two teams who many think will be in a fight for a spot in the top 5. New signings will also be wanting to impress as the Super League season of new beginnings continues.