Opposition Overview: Catalans Dragons
Picture by Laurent Selles/Catalans Dragons /via SWpix.com. Rugby league Super League Season 2021. Catalans Dragons Media Day player head shots portraits -
A week after their clash at Emerald Headingley, Leeds Rhinos travel to the South of France to take on Catalans Dragons at the Stade Gilbert Brutus this Friday, kick off 6:15pm
The match, which was postponed earlier in the season, will be available for season and flexi members to watch for free exclusively on the OurLeague app, as well as on Sky Sports Arena. Ahead of the match, here is a look at our opponents:
2021 so far..
A 26-18 comeback win over the Rhinos last week ensured that Catalans Dragons retained their place on the top of the Betfred Super League table and continued an eight match winning streak for Steve McNamara’s side.
Following a Play Off semi final finish in 2020, the Dragons are continuing to flourish under head coach McNamara, who has taken the club from Qualifiers survivors to Super League contenders and Challenge Cup champions. Coming into 2021, despite losing Israel Folau, Catalans added experienced Super League forwards Gil Dudson and Mike McMeeken to their ranks, as well as New Zealand international Dean Whare.
Although they made a shaky start to the new season, beginning with a golden point extra time win over Hull KR in round one and then a 24-8 defeat to Warrington, the Dragons bounced back to win their last seven league games, including back to back wins against the champions St Helens and Wigan. The latter result against the Warriors was resounding as nine tries saw Catalans down the five time Super League champions 48-0; Sam Tomkins and Michael McIlorum scoring against their former club.
After surviving a late fight back against Leigh, the Dragons, who were now top of the Super League table, extended their winning streak by beating Castleford 16-6, Huddersfield 50-12 and, following a week off as their fixture with Hull KR was postponed, Leeds at Emerald Headingley, although they needed second half tries from Matt Whitley, Mike McMeeken and Fouad Yaha to seal the result.
Last Four Fixtures
One of Catalans’ most dangerous players last week, Arthur Mourgue looks to be the next major French talent coming through the Dragons’ ranks. Since debuting in 2018, the full back/half back, has worked his way into McNamara’s squad, especially after impressing at the back end of 2020. So far in this campaign, he has only missed out on two games, scored four tries and is one of the Dragons’ best players when it comes to breaking the line and busting out of tackles.
With the experience of Sam Tomkins and James Maloney around him, Mourgue is not a man you can take your eyes off. As shown in his try against the Rhinos, his speed and agility got him through the first tackle and then to the try line:
So far in his first term as captain, Benjamin Garcia will be pleased with his team’s performances as they approach the halfway mark of the season.
Taking over from the hole left by club stalwart Remi Casty, Garcia has stepped up and led by example in the 11 games he has played in 2021. Opening his try scoring account with tries in his first three matches, Garcia also helped mastermind the Dragons’ golden point win in the opening round of the season and also led by example in the club’s biggest wins of the campaign against the League Leaders’ Shield holders Wigan and the reigning Super League champions St Helens.
After playing his early rugby in Australia, Garcia first joined Catalans in 2013, debuting against Leeds. Over the two years of his contract, the Dragons finished midtable and earned a place in the Super 8s in 2015 but with interest from the NRL, he signed for Penrith Panthers and returned to Australia in 2016. Despite signing a two year deal with the Panthers, he was back in Super League in June 2016 with the Dragons.
After helping the club survive the Qualifiers in 2017, Garcia was a major factor in helping the Dragons win their first piece of silverware in 2018. After a shaky start against York in the Challenge Cup, the Dragons came good to beat St Helens in the semi finals and then Warrington at Wembley. Garcia recorded two tries against Saints in the 35-16 win, and also scored in the Final too.
Last season, as the Dragons contested for a place in the Grand Final, Garcia missed the win over Leeds in the elimination play off match but on his return against St Helens in the semi final, the captain was sin binned and had to weather a 48-2 defeat to bow out.
There is only one player in Leeds and Catalans’ current squads that has featured for both squads; that being Richie Myler.
A two time Grand Finalist and winner of the Challenge Cup in 2012 with Warrington, Myler made the switch to the south of France after six years at the Wolves. In his first season, alongside Luke Walsh, he helped the Dragons to finish in the Super 8s before a year later, he was part of the side that survived the Million Pound Game against Leigh Centurions to retain their Super League status.
He signed for Leeds in 2018 and helped the 2017 Grand Final winners also come through the Qualifiers and finish second behind Salford. Despite a shaky 2019, which was stabilised by Richard Agar, Myler went on to be one of Leeds’ stand out stars in the 2020 campaign, transitioning to full back with ease as well as picking up his first piece of silverware in the Challenge Cup; a game in which he was awarded the Lance Todd man of the match. After suffering a finger injury against Salford, he could be back in contention for Friday’s clash.
Last Game vs Leeds at Stade Gilbert Brutus
After their match was postponed in 2020, Leeds’ last trip out to Perpignan came in 2019, when an upbeat Dragons side edged the Rhinos 26-22. It was an afternoon for the wingers as Ash Handley and Fouad Yaha both scored hat tricks, while Konrad Hurrell also got on the board for Dave Furner’s side.