Catalans Dragons survive injury and illness scares in ‘worst week ever’

CATALANS DRAGONS climbed out of their sickbeds to record their second win of the season on Saturday with a squad ravaged by illness and injury.

A 14-6 win over Leigh Leopards in Perpignan was “a great result” according to coach Steve McNamara, who had to patch up his team of wounded and medicated players.

Seven players needed antibiotics last week to fight infections caused by skin wounds sustained in round one at Wakefield Trinity and the late withdrawal of two senior squad members before kick-off threatened to derail the Dragons’ first home game of the season at Stade Gilbert Brutus.

Leigh came close to upsetting the odds, but McNamara was proud of his players’ performance, considering the condition they were in. The matchday 17 had 13 French players.

He told League Express after Saturday’s game: “I’m very happy with that result; we’ve had a very difficult week. It’s been the most difficult period for this club for a long time and I’m proud of the way the players have responded.

“We’ve had the worst week ever with sickness and infections from injuries sustained in our first game at Wakefield. We’ve lost a number of players so to do that tonight against a very good Leigh side was incredible.

“We’ve had lots of sickness and this morning Matt Whitley picked up a shoulder injury and Adam Keighran had to pull out.

“So that is a very good win for us.”

Catalans were without long-term injured Fouad Yaha, Mike McMeeken and Tyrone May, but niggling problems for Mitchell Pearce (groin), Siua Taukeiaho (knee) and now Keighran and Whitley leave McNamara with a huge headache.

Sam Tomkins returned from his knee injury with a man-of-the-match performance at scrum-half and the Dragons’ coach was relieved to report no further injury concerns from the win over Leigh. But he remains cautious about skin wounds and the possibility of further infections as he prepares for Friday’s home game against Hull.

He added, “There’s plenty of blood around in the changing room tonight, the scabs are all off again, we’ve got seven players on antibiotics from last week so most of the team weren’t feeling too great before kick-off.

“But we don’t seem to have picked up any further problems and we’ll have some fresh players available to face Hull next week.”

The Dragons were also missing another new recruit against Leigh, McNamara adding, “We lost Manu Ma’u because his father has sadly died and he has returned to New Zealand to be with his family.”