Notice how the team started off slowly and ineffectively? They lost four of their first five games, five of their first seven, including to lowly Salford and Wakefield. The new coach and his methods, and the new roster of young imports, were taking time to gel with the majority French contingent. Then the players finally got into the right groove, and started defeating all the best teams, including Warrington (away), Wigan (away and at home) and Huddersfield (at home). Only massive injury problems crippled their challenge to Leeds at Headingley. Now Catalans have overtaken Leeds in the Super League table to stand in 5th place. Their position in the playoffs, barring further injuries to the halves, seems assured. The only question is where in the final reckoning they will end up. But two victories over the mighty Wigan Warriors shows that Les Catalans Dragons are a force to be reckoned with. It is now reasonable to argue that Les Catalans Dragons stand with Warrington, Huddersfield, Wigan, St Helens and Leeds as members of Super League's Big 6.
Many important tough games are still to be played: against Huddersfield at Galpharm Stadium on 18th June, against Leeds at Stade Gilbert Brutus on 10 July (when the new stand is scheduled to be opened), and against St Helens at Stobart on 15 July. Undoubtedly one of the great matchups of the remaining schedule will be the match against Warrington at Stade Gilbert Brutus on August 20. Every Warrington fan with a bit of spare change should make the effort to be there in the newly enhanced 11,000 seat stadium.
We must not overlook the fact that most of Les Catalans players selected each week are French, and in some of their victories it has been 13 French players and only four imports on the field.
Three of the Australian imports that Trent Robinson has brought to Perpignan --- Scott Dureau, Ian Henderson, and Ben Farrar (now injured) --- have been revelations for the squad. But coach Robinson has also got the established French players back to their best form from the Mick Potter era.
All of this shows how important a good coach is for a team's performance.
As we approach the opening of the new stand at Stade Gilbert Brutus we can say without equivocation that French rugby league now has a solid foothold in French Catalonia.
Now if we can only make the next vital step, and get the strategically important Toulouse team into decent shape with a competent coach.
Edited by ParisSurtout, 06 June 2011 - 03:58 AM.