Catalans Dragons are looking forward to some home comforts following Friday night’s fixture against Leeds Rhinos at Headingley.
Super League’s French high-flyers have been clocking up the air miles so far this season, but a forthcoming three-match home run at Stade Gilbert Brutus will be very welcome, according to coach Steve McNamara.
He told League Express: “By the time we’ve played Leeds we’ll have had 13 games this season and ten of them have been in England, so it will be nice to have the home comforts for a change.
“We’ve found a rhythm and a routine this season with our travel arrangements and found out what works best for us and it has been paying off.
“And we’ve never used travel as an excuse but it is a factor when you’re getting home every week at three or four in the morning after two flights and 80 minutes of Rugby League.
“So fingers crossed, because you never know these days, we’ve got a home run coming up and we’re really looking forward to it.”
Catalans will face a triple trial of Yorkshire sides in Perpignan with successive games against Leeds, then Castleford and Wakefield, and McNamara said his squad couldn’t wait to run out in front of their French supporters.
He added, “First and foremost, the financial side of having home games for this club is paramount, but for the players to run out at the Brutus in front of 5,000 supporters for the first time in a long while it’s going to be very special.”
The table-topping Dragons are on a seven-match unbeaten run, but McNamara said that string of victories will face a stern challenge on Friday.
“Leeds are a good team with some outstanding individuals. I’m not sure many teams could cope with the number of players they have had out so far this season but that is the size of their club.
“They have such depths of resources that they are still able to field competitive teams and give their talented young players the opportunity to break into the first team.
“It looks like they will be at near full-strength against us on Friday and that is the next part of the challenge for us this season.
“We’re looking forward to the game and even more-so to the return the following week at home.”
McNamara reported no injury worries following last week’s Huddersfield game and he expects hookers Michael McIlorum and Alrix Da Costa to be fit and available for selection against Leeds.
However, he was less happy with one-match suspensions picked up by prop forwards Gil Dudson and Sam Kasiano for ‘dangerous tackles’ during the Huddersfield game. McNamara said he would be studying video evidence before considering whether to appeal the decisions by the RFL disciplinary.
Catalans were heavily penalised by referee Ben Thaler during the Huddersfield game for a lengthy series of infringements at the play-the-ball and McNamara said there will be some fine-tuning at training to address the issue.
Josh Drinkwater, Jason Baitieri and Gil Dudson were all sin-binned by Thaler and McNamara added, “There were obviously some periods of indiscipline that didn’t hurt us on the scoreboard against the Giants but they might come back to bite us in future games so we’ve had to have a look at that in training this week.
“We gave away far too many penalties and we can’t afford to continue to do that.”
The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.