Catalans Dragons and Toulouse Olympique ready to make Super League history

Catalans Dragons and Toulouse Olympique will create history on Thursday by taking part in the first-ever French derby in Super League.

The two clubs will go head-to-head at Stade Gilbert Brutus in the Round 8 clash, which will be televised live by Sky Sports in the UK and beIN Sport in France.

Catalans’ captain Ben Garcia told League Express, “This fixture is so important for the game here; it’s like who is the best team in France?

“To play in the first-ever derby will fill every French player with pride. We’ve only ever played against Toulouse in trial games and you don’t learn much from preparation matches.
“This one is for real and it should be a great game.”

French international captain Garcia is hoping the derby will be the first of many if Toulouse manage to escape relegation from Super League this season.

He added, “Rugby League is growing again in France and games like these will take it a significant step further.

“We need Toulouse to stay in Super League because it is encouraging more French players to take up the sport and strengthening the French national side.

“French supporters are very passionate and I’m sure there will be a lot of noise on Thursday night with so much pride at stake.”

Catalans coach Steve McNamara will be hoping for an improved performance from his players after they tumbled out of the Challenge Cup in a 36-20 home defeat to St Helens on Saturday.

He said, “It’s the first-ever French derby in Super League and hopefully it will be a spectacle with plenty of people here and it is setting itself up to be a great occasion.

“The short turnaround is not ideal, but I’m sure Toulouse will have been sitting at home preparing for it while we’ve got to turn around quickly and we will do.

“We’ve not got to worry too much about the occasion; we’ve got to worry about getting some elements of our performance, which were poor against St Helens, back on track.”

McNamara will be hoping for positive news on fullback Sam Tomkins, who limped from the pitch during the first half against St Helens.

He said, “Sam got a heavy hit on the top of his calf, below his knee and it shut his leg down.

“It’s nothing serious, he just couldn’t get it moving again. He tried, but his leg just shut down, although it’s not too bad now.

“It’s too early to say whether he will be playing on Thursday; we’ve got a five-day turnaround, but it’s not a catastrophic injury, it was such a physical hit that it just shut down on him.”

Toulouse coach Sylvain Houles said, “It will be a huge game for so many reasons on Thursday and one that could have major implications for Rugby League in France.

“The players are ready, there is a sense of anticipation and I’m sure it will be a very special moment.”

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