From Yorkshire, down to somewhere much more beautiful – the south of France. We have 2 Catalan Dragons fans answering our questions reflecting on 2019 and looking ahead to 2020 today – our thanks to Chris C-D and John Newman for helping us out.
First of all tell us a little about yourself…
CC-D: I’m Chris from Yorkshire. I’ve followed Catalan for 10 years since visiting Perpignan on holiday.
JN: I’m a 21 year old fan who lives in the UK. I try to get to all the away games and I’m on first name basis with the players after receiving playing shirts after games.
Sum up last season as a Catalans fan.
CC-D: Last season fizzled out. Having won the Challenge Cup the year before, the bar had been raised in terms of expectations. However, some great rugby was played at times and we just missed out on the play offs. So overall, a pretty good season, especially having had such rotten luck with injuries.
JN: 2019 was such a disappointing season for us we had so much potential and let it slip again. I think McNamara needs to be replaced – I respect he helped us win the Challenge Cup but I feel it’s time to move on.
We welcome Toronto into Super League for the first time, meaning we now have 2 teams from outside of the UK taking part in Super League.
So in three parts: a) What are your thoughts on Toronto’s promotion, b) would you welcome more expansion teams from across Europe and/or North America and c) what would your ideal ‘domestic’ Rugby League competition look like in 20-30 years?
CC-D: I welcome the addition of Toronto. They increase the exposure of the sport and bring in new money. I think that as long as new additions have a medium to long term funding plan, then we should look to expand. What we don’t need is a repeat of the League One expansion which saw some clubs fail to even start, others folded, others relocated. It would be amazing if Belgrade could step up, and TOXIII to give us a derby and solidify the resurgence of the sport in France. If we are able to add other sides I would like to see two full time leagues with promotion and relegation. Not a fan of having different conferences based on location.
JN: I will be welcoming Toronto, as I think expansion is good for the game.
How do you think the Dragons will go in 2020?
CC-D: This season, the play offs are the expectation. Steve McNamara has been building for a few years now and I’m sure he will feel that the side can improve from last year and get into the play offs. The minimum expectation would be for consistency in performance, with a decent cup run. I am confident in the club having an excellent season.
JN: I think we should be aiming for a top 5 place as a minimum with the squad we have and a successful season would include reaching another major final.
Are you happy with your recruitment this year – is there anywhere you feel you need to improve?
CC-D: We are still a few bodies down with the various players who have left. This has been acknowledged by McNamara. He is doing right to wait and find the right people rather than rush to simply fill the holes. Drinkwater returning is great news, he was pivotal in the Cup winning campaign. Clearly Maloney could be a game changer and I can’t wait to see him in action. Tom Davies is another useful addition. Will also to be interesting to see how the loss of Gigot will impact as he had played a big part in recent years. There are plenty of other options to play in that role, so I’m not worried.
JN: I’m very happy with our recruitment – we should have never let Drinkwater go and James Maloney is going to be one to watch out for.
Golden point was used in Super League last year – what are your thoughts on the system?
CC-D: I’m not a fan of Golden Point as I think the losing team deserve something after battling to a draw. However, I’m sick of the meddling that happens every year with the rules, so stick with it. No more changes.
JN: I like golden point – it adds drama to the game (like in the NRL) and drama is hat the game needs.
Which one of your clubs players is the one to watch out for this season?
CC-D: James Maloney, comes with a massive reputation in the NRL and I can’t wait to see him pulling the strings.
JN: I’d say a player to watch if he gets more playing time is Lucas Albert.
Which of your young players is most likely to make a name for themselves this season?
CC-D: Mickael Goudemand became a regular feature last year and more than held his own. Think he will continue to develop and play a big part this season
JN: Arthur Mourgue scored a brilliant solo try in the last game of season so will be good to see him develop
Right, can you give us predictions…
CC-D: Top 5: St Helens, Catalan, Wigan, Leeds, Castleford; Grand Final: Catalan v Saints; Champions: Catalan; Challenge Cup: Saints beating Wigan in the final; Relegated: Hull KR, but got a horrible feeling that Salford will run them close
JN: Top 5: 1 St Helens, 2 Wigan, 3 Warrington, 4 Catalan Dragons, 5 Hull FC; Champions: St. Helens; Challenge Cup: Salford; Relegated: Huddersfield
Who will be Man of Steel? Do you agree with the way the votes are given out?
CC-D: Man of Steel should just be a free vote by the players. Who else…. James Maloney (no pressure)
JN: I think Jackson Hastings could be challenging for the award again.