As Super League kicks off round 3, Wakefield and Catalans will battle it out in West Yorkshire at the Mobile Rocket Stadium. Here’s everything you need to know.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
In the first two rounds, Wakefield have come up short on both occasions. A loss away from home on the opening game to relegation favourites London, and then in their first home match of 2019, a loss to 2018’s League Leaders, St Helens. Chris Chester and everybody associated with Trinity shouldn’t be too worried: only two games gone and plenty of matches to be played. Although they will need a win sooner rather than later as once you go on a run of losses in Super League, it isn’t a healthy dressing room.
On the other hand, the 2018 Challenge Cup winners, Catalans, have started the year off on an even keel: losing one and winning one. Steve McNamara’s side have shown what they can do to teams with their win a fortnight ago against the Huddersfield Giants. Coming to the Mobile Rocket Stadium off the back of a win will be very pleasing but they’ll want that to continue going into Round 4.
In the game against the Saints, Chester had Craig Huby and Danny Kirmond are ruled out with injuries and have been replaced by prop Keegan Hirst and youngster James Batchelor, who both in reverse, make returns from injury.
If Wakefield are to win, it’ll be their first victory of 2019, from the third time of asking. It has been a slow start, two games against arguably London, who will be the underdogs of 2019 and St Helens, who were undoubtedly the best team and who set the benchmark in 2018.
Wakefield Trinity 19-man squad:
Tinirau Arona, Joe Arundel, Matty Ashurst, James Batchelor, Danny Brough, Jordan Crowther, Anthony England, David Fifita, Ryan Hampshire, Keegan Hirst, Justin Horo, Tom Johnstone, Ben Jones-Bishop, George King, Craig Kopczak, Reece Lyne, Jacob Miller, Bill Tupou, Kyle Wood.
For Catalans, there is an introduction back into the squad for PNG back David Mead, who returns to the team. Also returning are Benjamin Garcia and Antoni Maria.
Alrix Da Costa and Julian Bousquet both miss out through injury. Resigning Fouad Yaha will add some speed down the wing but he is still awaiting his registration to go through before being available to play.
Catalans Dragons 19-man squad:
Tony Gigot, David Mead, Brayden Williame, Lewis Tierney, Samisoni Langi, Matty Smith, Remi Casty, Michael McIlorum, Sam Moa, Kenny Edwards, Benjamin Garcia, Mika Simon, Benjamin Jullien, Matt Whitley, Mickael Goudemand, Antoni Maria, Jason Baitieri, Sam Tomkins.
HEAD TO HEAD
In the previous five meetings, Wakefield have got the better of the French side, winning 4 out of the last 5. Four of those were in Yorkshire, and three of those were Trinity wins. Catalans’ last victory over Wakefield was back in July last year when they won 35-18. It was at the back end of the season when Catalans were the hot prospect and were on the road to Wembley. Wakefield will be looking to continue their good form against Catalans as they face off in Thursday night’s game.
Ryan Hampshire (Wakefield) v Sam Tomkins (Catalans)
Hampshire spent four years at Wigan but had an indifferent time there. Now he has returned to his boyhood club and seems to have finally found his feet somewhere. He has cemented the fullback position with the Trinity and will be looking to work with halfbacks Jacob Miller and Danny Brough to see where he best fits in.
A face he will know well is Sam Tomkins, having spent the 2013 and 2016 seasons together at the Warriors. Tomkins was back to form in his final year with Wigan in 2018 and Catalans looks like it could be a great career move for him. Linking up with Matty Smith and Tony Gigot, it could be a very exciting season for the Dragons with this trio at the helm.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Thursday 21st February
Venue: Mobile Rocket Stadium
Referee: Chris Kendall
WHO WILL WIN?
With Wakefield losing two leaders and key forwards in Huby and Kirmond, it’s hard to see past a Catalans win. Trinity will have home advantage which can be a huge bonus but Catalans should just have the edge, especially with their pack.