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Super League Grand Final: Catalans and St Helens combined seventeen

Catalans and St Helens have easily been the best two teams in the league this year. So, it’s quite right that they will meet in Saturday’s Grand Final in a contest steeped in history befitting of the Theatre of Dreams. Catalans are hoping to become only the fifth team to lift the Super League trophy whilst St Helens are looking to emulate Leeds’ historic three titles in a row. Both clubs have squads brimming with quality and deserving of the history which awaits them. But who has shone this season despite being surrounded by quality? Today we’re answering that question and giving you our Catalans and St Helens combined team ahead of Saturday’s Grand Final, strictly focusing on 2021 form.

Fullback: Sam Tomkins

The newly crowned Man of Steel was a shoe in for this side. That said, we shouldn’t discredit the brilliant Lachlan Coote. In fact, Tomkins will have to bring his A game if he wants to outperform Coote at Old Trafford this weekend. Nonetheless, Tomkins has been exceptional this term. The 2012 Man of Steel has evolved into a really smart attacking weapon ripping defences apart with skills rather than just raw pace like at the beginning of his career. Only teammate Josh Drinkwater has more assists than him this season and he’s never shy of the tryline himself. A leader and an organiser, he’s the beating heart of the Dragons.

Wingers: Tom Davies and Regan Grace

Tommy Makinson has arguably been the world’s best winger since 2018, but this season Regan Grace has raised his game to another level and has stolen headlines throughout the season. He’s capable of scoring impossible tries only he could poach thanks to his agility, balance and strength. Meanwhile, Tom Davies has been the most consistent winger in the league over the last two seasons. He may not have won the top try scorer award in 2020 or 2021, but he’s sniffed around the accolade over the last two years thanks to his potent finishing ability. With great strength, he gives Catalans an important platform and has combined well with fellow winger Fouad Yaha even linking up with the French flyer for a memorable try earlier this season.

Centres: Jack Welsby and Mark Percival

The Dream Team selectors did my job for me in this position. Both Jack Welsby and Mark Percival have been brilliant in 2021 and were deserving of their place in the Dream Team. After a slow start to the season as he tried to get over his recent injury struggles, Percival is back to his best scoring that magnificent try against Warrington earlier this year. Meanwhile, Welsby has lived up to the hype he generated in last year’s Grand Final. With 13 tries and 13 assists in the regular season, he’s shown his finishing ability and his creativity in a variety of positions.

Halfbacks: James Maloney and Jonny Lomax

I really wanted to include Josh Drinkwater in this position. His 28 regular season assists is nothing to be scoffed at and he was deserving of a place in this team and the Dream Team. Ultimately, both James Maloney and Jonny Lomax edged ahead of him in the Dream Team and in this side, even if statistically their seasons aren’t so impressive. What they bring to their teams cannot be measured by any statistic other than the success we’ve seen their teams achieve. They’re the fulcrums in their sides, the creative hubs, the leaders and organisers. They underpin how their team attacks.

Props: Alex Walmsley and Matty Lees

Alex Walmsley has rediscovered his best form again at the business end of the year reminding the league why he’s been the best prop in the competition since Jamie Peacock’s retirement. He’s at times been otherworldly in the physicality he brings but also the skills and speed he offers despite his size. Meanwhile, Matty Lees has been the perfect foil to Walmsley this term. A dynamic yet powerful runner, he does the hard yards and generates quick ruck speed.

Hooker: James Roby

James Roby is James Roby, perhaps I don’t need to say any more than that. He may no longer be at his best but he still offers great smarts and leadership from behind the ruck making Walmsley’s job easier and taking the pressure of young halfback Lewis Dodd. Still with a turn of pace and great strength, he’s a threat in attack and one of the best nines in the league.

Second-Rowers: Matt Whitley and Mike McMeeken

Do Catalans have the best backrow in the league? Perhaps. St Helens have plenty of brilliant second-rowers, but most of them have struggled with injuries in 2021 meaning none of them have really nailed down the position until recently. Joe Batchelor definitely deserves a mention but the performances of Matt Whitley and Mike McMeeken cannot be overlooked. McMeeken is back to his best with the Dragons halves freeing him up to use his huge frame to devastate defences. Meanwhile, Whitley has been a threat on the left mixing skill with athleticism. Granted, he too had injury problems but when fit he’s been superb this term.

Loose-Forward: Morgan Knowles

Once upon a time, Sean O’Loughlin was the dominant loose-forward in Super League. But it now appears Morgan Knowles will be the premier number 13 in the competition. He has everything the modern loose requires thanks to his blend of physicality and skill. He’s been outstanding this year.

Substitutes: Arthur Mourgue, Agnatius Paasi, Sam Kasiano, Benjamin Garcia

What a bench this would be. For starters Arthur Mourgue is an electric player who excels in every and any position he plays in. When he comes off the bench, he devastates tired defenders with his raw pace and agility much like a certain Rob Burrow once did. Alongside him are the two best impact forwards in the league: Agnatius Paasi and Sam Kasiano. Paasi proved his worth in the cup run, changing the game in the final and devastating Leeds in the opening round. Meanwhile, Kasiano has been brilliant this term bringing size and a great offloading ability from the bench to test defences. The Dream Team prop and the scorer of the equaliser in that famous Magic Weekend battle, he simply had to be in this side as did his skipper Benjamin Garcia. Following the departure of Remi Casty, Ben Garcia had to step up as a leader and a presence down the middle. He’s done that and then some in 2021. In fact, he has only been bettered at 13 by Knowles in terms of performance.

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