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Long Read Interview: Tom Davies

When Tom Davies joined the Catalans Dragons ahead of the 2020 Super League season, there were a few eyebrows raised.

Here was a winger who had suffered a horrific leg break whilst playing for hometown club Wigan Warriors in 2019, travelling hundreds of miles to a club where he wouldn’t play until the summer of 2020.

But, it was perhaps one of the most inspired signings in Super League in recent seasons as Davies knew he had to leave Wigan to realise his Super League dream, given the abundance of wingers at the Warriors with the likes of Liam Marshall, Joe Burgess and Dom Manfredi at that time.

“I got injured the year I left Wigan and it gave me to think where I was at that point in my career and what I wanted to achieve,” Davies told Serious About Rugby League.

“I didn’t think Wigan was the best place for me – I greatly appreciate everything they did for me as they gave me my debut so I had a good time at the club.

“With the amount of wingers they had though that made game time harder to come by and I wasn’t necessarily getting the best out of myself rugby wise.

“I needed to look somewhere else and play my best rugby.”

It was then that Davies was approached by Steve McNamara and the Catalans Dragons – and it was a move he couldn’t resist.

“I was speaking to some clubs and Steve was honest about how he wanted this team to play and what he was building in France. Out of everywhere, catalans was the best place for me to play my best rugby and it would suit my game the most.

“It all happened rather quickly.”

For the 23-year-old, he can’t actually believe how well the move has turned out.

“It’s gone better than I actually expected,” Davies admitted. “When I first joined I had high goals which is why I left Wigan – it was my hometown club which was great but I wanted to get the most out of my career.

“Rugby is my dream and I want to make it – when I look at it now, it’s 10-12 years you might get out of your career so you’ve got to make the most of it.

“It’s shocked me how well it’s gone, I love where I am now, I get on well with all the lads and coaching staff. I’m so happy and that’s translated onto the pitch.

“I got selected for England and we won the League Leaders’ Shield so it’s been a whirlwind.”

Now Davies is looking to build on this in 2022, with aims of going one better after he and the Dragons narrowly missed out on Grand Final glory after defeat to St Helens at Old Trafford.

“We all have that fire in us now,” he added. “We know we’re good enough and we just have to make sure we give ourselves a good opportunity by getting to Old Trafford again and hopefully the result will be different.

“We didn’t do much wrong in that final but we’re out to set the record straight next season, but we know we’ll have a target on us now, as will Saints, but we’re really looking forward to the challenge.”

With an almost a try-a-game record, the flying winger was set to be out of contract at the end of 2021.

And, Davies has since told Serious About Rugby League that a number of offers came in from elsewhere, before a three-year deal was inked with the Dragons.

“Other clubs had made offers,” Davies revealed. “When we (me and my agent) negotiated we had to speak to other people and get other options that were available.

“Although I was really enjoying myself at Catalans, I was looking at the bigger picture and what might be better for me in the long run.

“For example, is there another coach or set of lads that I would get on well with?”

But, Davies soon realised that staying at the Stade Gilbert Brutus would be the best option.

“Ultimately Catalans was the main one and I really did want to stay and get everything right and into place. I spoke to other clubs a little bit, but I made it obvious that I really enjoy myself here and it’s going perfect and i wanted to stay.

“The club has been great with me and I’ve now got three more years so I can’t wait. The lifestyle here really is way beyond anywhere else I think you could experience.

“I have not experienced the lifestyle of playing in the NRL but certainly the players in our squad who have played over in Australia say Perpignan is the best place they have played.”

Davies also spoke about the changing culture at the club in recent seasons which has allowed the Dragons to challenge at the top, despite the temptations their current location brings.

“Of course we have good weather and Barcelona is not far away and you hear stories of players who have played here before just using their time here as a holiday, that they would go to Barcelona every other day.

“But we have a great culture which comes from Steve McNamara and the coaching team, as well as the playing group with the likes of Sam Tomkins and Michael McIlorum who are such competitors that they won’t allow anyone to come here and use it as a holiday anymore.

“Sam and Micky know what it takes to win a Super League title and they made sure that everyone here bought into our aims of becoming one of, if not thee, best club in Super League.

“Sure we still have good team bonding sessions out and about in the surrounding areas, but when the season starts we are focused and if I’m honest I didn’t expect it to be like that coming here.

“Coming from Wigan where it is ultra professional and run like a Premier League football club, I came here expecting it to be a bit more basic but it’s not and that’s why we have been able to become one of the top teams.

“I’m very happy the way things have worked out so far both on a team front and a personal front and I’m hopeful next season we can give the fans here what they deserve and win the Grand Final at Old Trafford come October.”

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