Match Preview – St Helens vs Catalans


St Helens and the Catalans kick off the new Super League season with a rematch of last year’s Grand Final

We watch what is said as a Grand Final rematch between reigning champions St Helens and League Leaders’ Shield winners the Catalans Dragons kicks off the 2022 Super League season, live on Sky Sports …

Woolf: The competition will ask us to be even better

Improvement. It’s the mantra Kristian Woolf has been preaching ever since he walked through the door of Totally Wicked Stadium.

It was no small feat in itself, when he arrived in November 2019 the Australian was taking over as head coach of a St Helens side which his predecessor Justin Holbrook had just guided to a success in the Super League Grand Final.

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Nonetheless, Woolf’s side backed that up with another title triumph in the pandemic-affected 2020 campaign and followed that up last year by becoming only the second side in the Super League era to win the Grand Final three years in a row, while lifting the Challenge Cup. for the first time since 2008.

Short of adding the league leaders’ shield to their collection this year – the Saints finished second in the regular season in 2021 – it’s hard to see how much further the team can improve. But, as Woolf explains, his philosophy is more about making sure they stay one step ahead of their rivals.

“Obviously we want to support that and love having that success again,” Woolf said. “If we look at the results, obviously a better year also includes the league leaders’ shield.

“But when I talk about improvement, it’s not about the results at the end of the year. Where we were last year, we want to be in those same games again this year. What we have to doing is finding ways to go and be a stronger team, a better team, and the competition is going to ask us that because I think it will be a stronger competition.

Sky Sports' Jon Wilkin and St Helens winger Regan Grace discuss their chances of winning a fourth consecutive Super League title

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Sky Sports’ Jon Wilkin and St Helens winger Regan Grace discuss their chances of winning a fourth consecutive Super League title

Sky Sports’ Jon Wilkin and St Helens winger Regan Grace discuss their chances of winning a fourth consecutive Super League title

“Every team is trying to find ways to be a little bit better and more consistent, and basically the teams want to be where we’ve been sitting for the last couple of years.

“To make sure we’re in that position again, we’ll have to make sure we’re better again because that’s what the competition is going to demand.”

Can the dragons avoid another murder among the saints?

The two clubs will line up in Thursday’s season opener at Totally Wicked Stadium with slightly different squads to those who took to the pitch for the Grand Final last October, with the Saints changing 10 of their squad of 30 people.

The departures of Lachlan Coote and Theo Fages mean youth system products Jack Welsby and Lewis Dodd will now have the chance to cement their place at full-back and in the long-term halves, having already impressed when they set off. are seen offering opportunities before.

A throwback as St Helens edged Catalan Dragons 12-10 to win the 2021 Super League Grand Final

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A throwback as St Helens edged Catalan Dragons 12-10 to win the 2021 Super League Grand Final

A throwback as St Helens edged Catalan Dragons 12-10 to win the 2021 Super League Grand Final

Welsby’s counterpart on Thursday is expected to be none other than reigning Man of Steel and England international Sam Tomkins, and the 32-year-old Catalan star is eagerly awaiting his battle with the man 12 years his junior.

“Jack is a talented player and he’s proven that now,” Tomkins said. “His move to full-back is a huge year for him. He’s got big boots to fill, but he’s a talented player.

“In terms of competing with him, I’m probably 10 years older than him, but he’ll want to be the best full-back on the pitch and so will I. I’m sure we’ll both go for it as well.”

St Helens’ 12-10 win in the Grand Final last year was just as close-fought as some of their previous encounters in 2021, with the Dragons winning 20-16 at Perpignan then winning a thriller at Magic Weekend 31-30 in gold point thanks to James Maloney’s drop goal at St James’ Park.

James Maloney's drop goal at Magic Weekend last year capped an incredible Catalans Dragons comeback win over St Helens

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James Maloney’s drop goal at Magic Weekend last year capped an incredible Catalans Dragons comeback win over St Helens

James Maloney’s drop goal at Magic Weekend last year capped an incredible Catalans Dragons comeback win over St Helens

St Helens, however, ran out 34-12 wins – albeit against an under-strength Catalan side – on home ground, where the French side have not won since April 2016. However, that doesn’t scare Tomkins and his team-buddies.

“I’m probably tired of hearing it, but they’ve been the benchmark for three years and they’ll come back and be strong again, I’m sure,” Tomkins said, adding, “But we know they’re not. unbeatable.

Team News

Off-season signings Will Hopoate, Joey Lussick, Curtis Sironen and Konrad Hurrell are all in line for their competitive debuts for St Helens, but newcomer James Bell is missing out on a place in Woolf’s 21-man squad.

Newcomers Mitchell Pearce, Dylan Napa and Tyrone May are all included in the Catalans’ 21-man squad for the clash at the Totally Wicked stadium. However, they are without French champion Arthur Mourgue with an ankle injury.

  • St Helens have won their last seven home meetings with the Catalans (including a win at Headingley in 2020)
  • The Dragons’ last win over the Saints at Totally Wicked Stadium was 30-12 on April 14, 2016

Named squads

Saint Helena: Jack Welsby, Tommy Makinson, Will Hopoate, Mark Percival, Jonny Lomax, Lewis Dodd, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Matty Lees, Sione Mata’utia, Joe Batchelor, Morgan Knowles, Joey Lussick, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Curtis Sironen, Agnatius Paasi, Kyle Amor, Jake Wingfield, Josh Simm, Ben Davies, Konrad Hurrell.

Catalan Dragoons: Tom Davies, Samisoni Langi, Dean Whare, Fouad Yaha, Mitchell Pearce, Josh Drinkwater, Gil Dudson, Micky McIlorum, Julian Bousquet, Matt Whitley, Mike McMeeken, Benjamin Garcia, Alrix Da Costa, Mickael Goudemand, Matthieu Laguerre, Tyrone May, Dylan Napa, Jordan Dezaria, Joe Chan, Sam Kasiano, Sam Tomkins.




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