Samisoni Langi is hoping to be the centre of attention for Catalans Dragons this year, despite moving out wide to make way for a former team-mate from down under.
The 26-year-old Tongan international has had no qualms about giving up his number six shirt and switching from stand-off to centre following the signing of NRL superstar James Maloney from Penrith Panthers on a three-year deal in Perpignan.
“There was a lot of mixing around in the halves last season and I ended up at centre for most of the time,” Langi told League Express. “And I’m more than happy there.
“I was at Sydney Roosters with Jimmy in 2013-14 and I was second or even third string behind him, so moving out to centre to accommodate him here isn’t a problem. Jimmy’s shown he’s a top, top player and I can’t wait to be lining up alongside him this year.
“I’m fully aware of what he brings to any club and he’s an incredible signing for the Catalans.”
Langi is so happy at Stade Gilbert Brutus he recently signed a new two-year-deal with the Dragons, keeping him in the south of France until at least the end of 2021. And the arrival of Maloney has put an even bigger smile on his face.
He said: “Jimmy brings his larrikin personality to the squad, which is great for team spirit but it’s his qualities as a player and skills on the pitch that shine out.
“He always lightens up the mood, always full of jokes, and that’s really important in a team environment.
“I’ve been here a couple of seasons now and I think this is the best squad I’ve seen. There’s a real harmony about the side and a cohesion this year. We’ve had some new recruits with Jimmy, Joel Tomkins and Tom Davies plus the return of Josh Drinkwater so it’s a new-look side but we’ve been training together now for ten full weeks and we have got to know each other very quickly.
“The squad’s been building up nicely. One of the biggest things that is being stressed to us is that we will not be allowed to repeat the collapses of last year.
“With all due respect to London and Salford, two great teams, they shouldn’t be allowed to come here to Perpignan and do what they did to us last season.
“When Salford smashed us 46-0 at home it had a massive impact on our confidence and we didn’t seem to recover. We seemed to lift ourselves for certain games, but when things went against us we just fell apart.
“The reasons for that have been analysed and explained to us and changes have been made. We’re under no illusions, we will not be allowed to let that happen this time around.”
In other news from Perpignan, the Dragons are continuing their search for a replacement for the NRL-departed Brayden Wiliame. Coach Steve McNamara said: “We’re keeping our options open and not rushing into any decisions.”
Hooker Michael McIlorum has resumed training at Stade Gilbert Brutus after recovering from a hand injury and new signing Tom Davies returned to France following surgery at a Cheshire hospital to remove metal plates from his left ankle.
“The surgery went really well and I’m hoping to be ready to play by the second or third round of Super League,” Davies said.
The Dragons will face Toulouse Olympique in a pre-season match at Carcassonne’s Stade Albert Domec on Saturday January 18th.