11 Jan 2022

Season Preview: Catalans Dragons

Catalans have cemented themselves in the upper echelons of Betfred Super League after a historic year in 2021, winning their first League Leaders’ Shield and appearing in a maiden Grand Final at Old Trafford. The Dragons also debunked the old adage that they struggle to win games on the road - losing just twice away from home during the regular season - with their first away defeat coming in round 18 away at the Champions, St Helens.

So, what next for the Dragons? Expect more of the same in 2022. The departing James Maloney has been expertly replaced by his former Sydney Roosters and New South Wales teammate Mitchell Pearce. Alongside Pearce is hard-hitting front rower Dylan Napa and 2021 NRL Grand Final winner Tyrone May, who will add utility value in several positions for Steve McNamara. Catalans have bolstered their squad in all the right areas, whilst keeping hold of their key men and, importantly, developing a core group of young French players who have gained invaluable Super League experience during the past 12 months.

The Dragons will rightfully remain as favourites this year and will be desperate to make amends at the Theatre of Dreams in September. 

Ins & Outs

Ins:

Mitchell Pearce (Newcastle Knights), Dylan Napa (Canterbury Bulldogs), Tyrone May (Penrith Panthers).

Mitchell Pearce prepares for his debut season in Super League.

Outs:

Joel Tomkins (retired), James Maloney (Lezignan), Jason Baitieri (Lezignan), Lambert Belmas (Lezignan).

Ones to watch

2022 stars

It’s hard to look past the Dragons new star half-back Mitchell Pearce. The former Newcastle Knights star arrives in France with a glittering reputation – his big game experience makes the loss of James Maloney more than manageable. The Dragons will be hoping for similar big game plays and ice cool finishes from Pearce – and he can certainly deliver. Pearce should bring a renewed excitement to an already vibrant club with both his reputation and ability on the pitch. The experienced half could prove to be a tremendous asset to the competition, with all eyes on the Dragons new number 6 in 2022.

And how could we forget about the reigning Man of Steel, Sam Tomkins. Pearce’s arrival is certainly the headline maker in the South of France, but Tomkins’ influence could be the pivotal factor which dictates another successful year for Le Dracs. Tomkins was at his mercurial best in 2021 – there wasn’t the faintest bit of opposition when he was rightfully awarded the coveted Man of Steel award in October. His dazzling skill and sublime ability were in full flow and he was an unmistakeable presence whenever he took the field. He’s showing no signs of slowing down and given his ultra-competitive nature, will be determined to right some wrongs after their narrow Grand Final defeat.

Sam Tomkins will hope to continue his eye-catching form in 2022.

Next Generation

Young back-rower Joe Chan was handed his first team debut in 2021 and showed glimpses of his potential during Catalans history-defining season. Son of former Dragons player turned general manager, Alex Chan, Joe has all the credentials to replicate his dads impressive career. The 19-year-old scored two tries in just six appearances last season, including a try in Catalans historic victory against Hull KR which earned them their place at Old Trafford. Despite his young age, he doesn't look out of place amongst the Dragons intimidating forward pack - and he can certainly mix it in the middle. Alongside his physical attributes is an impressive skillset and the knack for crossing the try line, which suggests the back-rower will be firmly in the picture for more regular game time in 2022. 

Defining dates

Catalans have one of the toughest starts to the 2022 campaign – the 2021 League Leaders face all five teams that finished below them in the top six last year during the opening six rounds of the new season. They begin with a Grand Final rematch away at St Helens on the opening night of the season - Thursday 10 February live on Sky Sports - to kick-start a testing couple of months. The Dragons have consecutive away trips to Leeds and Warrington in Rounds three & four, before welcoming Wigan and Hull KR to the Stade Gilbert Brutus to cap off a challenging March.

And of course, the first Super League meeting between two French sides will take place in Rivals Round when the Dragons host Toulouse on Thursday 14 April live on Sky Sports. It will be a landmark evening for the sport in the Northern Hemisphere and a testament to the growth of rugby league in France. 

Steve McNamara will begin his fifth season in charge at the Dragons in 2022.

2022 squad

1. Arthur Mourgue, 2. Tom Davies, 3. Samisoni Langi, 4. Dean Whare, 5. Fouad Yaha, 6. Mitchell Pearce, 7. Josh Drinkwater, 8. Gil Dudson, 9. Micky McIlorum, 10. Julian Bousquet, 11. Matt Whitley, 12. Mike McMeeken, 13. Benjamin Garcia, 14. Alrix Da Costa, 15. Benjamin Jullien, 16. Paul Séguier, 17. Mickael Goudemand, 18. Matthieu Laguerre, 19. Arthur Romano, 20. Tyrone May, 21. Corentin Le Cam, 22. Dylan Napa, 23. Jordan Dezaria, 24. Mathieu Cozza, 25. César Rougé, 26. Romain Franco, 27. Joe Chan, 28. Sam Kasiano, 29. Sam Tomkins, 30. Florian Vailhen.

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