Catalans hoping to shrug off Covid for Salford trip

Catalans Dragons will undertake further Covid tests this week in a bid to be able to travel to Salford for Thursday night’s Super League clash at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Four positive test results among “essential staff” at Stade Gilbert Brutus resulted in the last-minute postponement of last Thursday’s game at Warrington Wolves, and the club is awaiting the green light from RFL chiefs to return to training and playing.

Catalans are working with the RFL to establish the full details of “close contact” between those staff members and senior players before making a decision upon whether Thursday’s game can go ahead.

The club has been in isolation lockdown since last week’s announcement, although the length of the isolation will be determined by the information provided by Catalans to the RFL under the Team Sports Risk Framework protocols.

Any postponement of this week’s match at Salford would leave Catalans with three outstanding fixtures (including Castleford and Warrington) because of Covid cases, although it wouldn’t affect the Dragons’ position at the top of Super League under the current win-percentage system.

A spokesman for the RFL told League Express, “The Dragons have completed their three-day shutdown. Further testing took place yesterday (Sunday) and the RFL’s Multiple Case Group will consider the next steps as soon as the results are known.
“As things stand, the game is still on.”

Meanwhile, in other news from Perpignan, veteran Australian stand-off James Maloney has announced his decision to retire from the professional game at the end of the current Super League season.

Maloney, 35, declined to take up an option for an additional year with Catalans after admitting that he had lost all appetite for the rigours of pre-season training.

Maloney, a former Kangaroos and State of Origin three-time NRL Premiership-winner, is Super League’s current top goal and points-scorer, and he is expected to move into coaching or even an Indian Summer role as a part-time player in the French Elite One Championship.

He told League Express, “We’ve loved our time here in France, even though Covid has made things very difficult for overseas players and their families, and we will stay here for another year or so.

“I’ve had a lot of fun and been very fortunate to have a long career that has given me and my family so many opportunities.

“I’m very grateful to the Dragons for the opportunity to come and play over here and for how they have looked after me and my family in difficult circumstances and with everything going on with the world, and I hope that I can repay that by finishing this season lifting the trophy.”

Coach Steve McNamara added, “Jimmy will be sorely missed by everyone at the club but we understand and respect his decision to retire after an incredible career.

“His contribution over the last two seasons for the Dragons cannot be overstated and he has a huge desire now to finish the season and his career on a successful note.”

Meanwhile, Dragons’ second-rower Benjamin Jullien has signed a new one-year deal, keeping him at the Brutus until at least the end of season 2022.

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