There’s five days until the Super League season kicks into action. We look at Catalans Dragons prospects for 2018.
Catalans Dragons will be hoping to turn the corner after a disruptive 2017 saw them fight for their Super League status through the Million Pound game against Leigh Centurions.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Benjamin Jullien (Warrington Wolves), Samisoni Langi (Leigh Centurions), Antoni Maria (Leigh Centurions), Michael McIlorum (Wigan Warriors), David Mead (Brisbane Broncos)
Thomas Bosc (retired), Luke Burgess (Salford Red Devils), Thibault Franck (Hull KR), Justin Horo (Wakefield Wildcats), Krisnan Inu (Widnes Vikings), Richard Myler (Leeds Rhinos)
Widnes Vikings (A), St Helens (H), Hull KR (A), Wakefield Trinity (H), Leeds Rhinos (A)
WHAT TO EXPECT
This is a critical year for the French club. Steve McNamara will have his first full year in charge and his intent to get the club back on track is shown in the amount of player movement as part of a rebuild. Their goal will be to avoid the dreaded Qualifiers where last season they placed fifth and had to meet fellow Super League club Leigh Centurions for the last spot in Super League XXIII. Improvement will be needed in their home record, last year recording a four wins and seven losses record which was a complete reversal of their 2016 campaign.
The experience of Irish International Michael McIlorum could turn the side’s fortunes. With 234 appearances for the Cherry and White, the new recruit has the potential to bring a winning culture to the club. Good service out of dummy half will allow his playmakers, including the inconsistent Luke Walsh to create opportunities.
David Mead’s move to the south of France from balmy Brisbane is an excellent move from Catalans. His speed and skill should improve their attack in 2018. Keep an eye on Benjamin Jullien, the twenty-two year old French International who’s arrived from Warrington Wolves. He was one of the better players in their Rugby League World Cup campaign, not taking a backward step running up the ball. They also pick up a relatively inexperienced rookie in Samisoni Langi who travelled from Penrith to Leigh in 2017 and is now looking for a more permanent stay with the Dragons. The 2013 National Youth Competition five-eighth of the year could be a handy acquisition for the club.
Their first five games will define their 2018 destiny. The Dragons must get off to a good start picking up a win on the road, possibly against Widnes Vikings or Hull KR, and pick up a couple of home wins. Their last five regular games of the season are tough with trips to an improved Warrington Wolves, Wigan Warriors and hosting Castleford Tigers. That’s why a good start is so important.
Top Tryscorer – David Mead
Top Pointscorer – Luke Walsh
Club Player of the Year – Michael McIlorum