Rugby League World says
A second Grand Final appearance in three years, as well as only missing out on a second League Leaders Shield in the same period on points difference, proves that the Dragons’ success under Steve McNamara is no fluke.
Having been given the time to grow organically since their initial arrival in Super League in 2006, the Dragons have developed into genuine title challengers, using a mixture of local talent and overseas knowledge to seemingly create the perfect blend.
French stars such as Arthur Morgue, Arthur Romano and Alrix Da Costa are becoming household names, while the return of Théo Fages adds even more French flair to the ranks of a club doing all it can to develop local players – even though IMG do not recognise that in their grading process.
The Dragons will be eager to make it third time lucky if they make it back to Old Trafford, and previous experience of playing there will certainly stand them in good stead if they get that opportunity.
Three to watch
Jordan Abdull’s move from Hull KR, initially on loan but with the option for Catalans to buy him for free, was one of the shocks of the off-season. Suddenly dispensable at the club he led with such distinction, the halfback will have a point to prove in Perpignan. If he can keep fit, he should thrive in this team.
Tom Johnstone provided one of the stories of 2023, overcoming his years of injury struggles to have a magnificent season. It will be difficult to top a campaign that brought 28 tries and a Man of Steel nomination, but simply a repeat effort will be invaluable to a Dragons team that is much changed in other key areas.
Tariq Sims is the most experienced of all the overseas recruits in Super League for 2024, with 236 NRL appearances to his name with North Queensland, Newcastle, St George Illawarra and most recently Melbourne. Whether the versatile forward, at the age of 33, is still in top form will go some way to determining Catalans’ fortunes.
Did you know?
Catalans were given a helping hand by the French Rugby League Federation when they first entered Super League in 2006, becoming the country’s second top-flight team after Paris Saint-Germain (1996 and 1997). The governing body decreed they could sign players from French clubs without a transfer fee.
1 Arthur Mourgue, 2 Tom Davies, 3 Arthur Romano, 4 Matthieu Laguerre, 5 Fouad Yaha, 6 Jayden Nikorima, 7 Théo Fages, 8 Mike McMeeken, 9 Michael McIlorum, 10 Julian Bousquet, 11 Tariq Sims, 12 Paul Séguier, 13 Ben Garcia, 14 Alrix Da Costa, 15 Bayley Sironen, 16 Romain Navarrete, 17 César Rougé, 18 Ugo Tison, 19 Tanguy Zenon, 20 Tevita Satae, 21 Matt Ikuvalu, 22 Siua Taukeiaho, 23 Jordan Dezaria, 24 Tom Johnstone, 25 Loan Castano, 26 Manu Ma’u, 27 Jordan Abdull.
Tom Davies needs 14 tries for 100 in his career…
Théo Fages needs 5 appearances for 250 in his career…
Michael McIlorum needs 21 appearances for 400 in his career…
Paul Séguier needs 27 appearances for 100 for the club
RLW predicts: 3rd
First published in Rugby League World magazine, Issue 492 (January 2024)