Match Preview – Catalans vs Warrington

We take a look at what is being said ahead of Saturday’s Super League showdown between Catalans Dragons and Warrington Wolves, live on Sky Sports Arena…

Briers bids farewell to Wolves

Earlier this week, news broke which emphasised how much it really will be the end of an era for Warrington when the 2021 Super League season comes to its conclusion.

After a quarter of a century as a player and coach at the club, Lee Briers will be departing the Wolves when Steve Price’s tenure as head coach comes to an end.

📲 A message from @briers6 to you the fans 🟡🔵

Although born in St Helens and getting his start in Super League with his hometown club, the maverick half-back became a club icon after finishing his playing career the highest point-scorer in the club’s history, with 2,586 in 425 appearances.

That included three Challenge Cup triumphs and he joined the coaching staff after being forced to retire with a neck injury in 2013. However, his time at the club has now come to an end ahead of Daryl Powell arriving as head coach from 2022 onward.

“It is an emotional and scary time to be leaving after 25 years, but on reflection this is the right time to go and experience something else which is quite exciting and scary at the same time,” Briers, who is departing along with fellow assistant Andrew Henderson, said.

“I’ve experienced everything – the highs, the lows and the in-betweens. I want to thank all the fans for taking me in back in 1997 as a young boy who’s now leaving as a man.”

On the pitch, Warrington are preparing for their first trip to Perpignan to face Catalans since the ill-tempered match in 2019 which saw three players sent off and both clubs fined following a crowd disturbance.

Their sole meeting in the pandemic-affected 2020 Super League season saw the Wolves triumph 30-16 and prop Joe Philbin is relishing what he expects to be another physical contest.

“I enjoy the Catalans fixture, it’s always a very physical affair and that’s my kind of game, to be honest,” Philbin said.

McNamara seeking ‘sharper’ Dragons display

Warrington’s 100 percent record came to an end last week as they were held to a 14-14 draw after golden point extra-time against Hull FC.

Catalans Dragons vs Warrington Wolves

April 24, 2021, 4:55pm

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Catalans, meanwhile, made it three wins out of three in Super League so far this year with a convincing 42-6 win at home to Salford Red Devils as Fouad Yaha led the way for the hosts with a hat-trick.

The 2018 Challenge Cup winners are also through to the quarter-finals of this year’s competition, where they face Saturday’s opponents and the team they beat at Wembley three years ago Warrington on Friday, May 7.

Head coach Steve McNamara has been impressed with the way the Dragons have begun the 2021 season, although he felt the performance against Salford was below the standards they have set despite the eye-catching scoreline.

“I didn’t think we quite had the same edge about us as we had in the previous three games,” McNamara said. “You don’t just judge your progress on the scoreboard, you judge it on other parts of your game.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the scoreboard, the result and the performance, but there were just elements to our game where I don’t think it quite deserved 42-6. We’re happy, but we’re also staying in control of the situation.

“To win our first four games is fantastic, but I think we need to freshen up and be a whole lot sharper going into the Warrington game.”

Team news

Dragons head coach McNamara has made just one change to his squad from the win over Salford, with versatile forward Jordan Dezaria coming into the 21 in place of Lambert Belmas. Joel Tomkins remains suspended as well.

Greg Inglis will have to wait at least one more week for his Warrington debut, while Tom Lineham still has one match of his suspension to serve. Head coach Price has, however, been able to name an unchanged squad for the trip to France.

Named squads

Catalans Dragons: Arthur Morgue, Tom Davies, Samisoni Langi, Dean Whare, Fouad Yaha, James Maloney, Josh Drinkwater, Gil Dudson, Micky McIlorum, Julian Bousquet, Matt Whitley, Mike McMeeken, Benjamin Garcia, Alrix Da Costa, Benjamin Jullien, Paul Seguier, Matthieu Laguerre, Jason Baitieri, Sam Kasiano, Sam Tomkins, Jordan Dezaria.

Warrington Wolves: Sitaleki Akauola, Matty Ashton, Blake Austin, Rob Butler, Josh Charnley, Daryl Clark, Jason Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie, Matt Davis, Chris Hill, Jack Hughes, Toby King, Jake Mamo, Robbie Mulhern, Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford, Josh Thewlis, Danny Walker, Gareth Widdop, Connor Wrench.

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