The problems in Catalans’ squad at the minute are well documented.
The Dragons are without four of their best forwards with Dylan Napa and Gil Dudson suspended whilst Mickael Goudemand and Julian Bousquet are out injured. This made the task of taking on the Leeds Rhinos last night all the more daunting.
Leeds clearly planned to try and blow the Dragons away down the middle with coach Richard Agar shuffling his pack to include his three biggest players within his starting 13 in the shape of Mikolaj Oledzki, Matt Prior and Zane Tetevano.
So, from the off Catalans’ big men needed to step up and indeed they did with Mike McMeeken playing out of position to front up against Leeds’ formidable pack.
Traditionally a backrower, the former Castleford man looked at home at prop with coach Steve McNamara revealing after the game that he volunteered to play out of position to help his teammates out.
He wasn’t the only Dragon who was willing to go out of his way to help the side with McNamara also praising Paul Seguier. The French forward had yet to play a minute of rugby this season and in the days leading up to the game was not in a good way.
“Paul Seguier’s not played all season,” McNamara said after the game, “And he’s had gastro for the last three days but put his hand up to play.”
On a night the Dragons needed forwards he stepped up when he probably should have been sat at home. The big unit gave important rest to skipper Ben Garcia who came on later in the game to help shut out the Rhinos when Catalans were down to 12 men following a controversial Mitchell Pearce yellow card which McNamara would describe as “pathetic.”
Seguier wasn’t the only Dragon who played when he most likely shouldn’t have done. With the focus being on Catalans’ props at the moment, it’s easy to forget they’re without Arthur Mourgue who provides vital cover to the Catalans’ spine.
Without him, one of Catalans’ stars played last night when he again had no right to, much like Seguier.
You may have noticed that after notching a vital assist in the first half, Sam Tomkins left the field replaced by Tyrone May. But what you may not have known was Tomkins came into the game with the injury.
McNamara told the press after the game: “He’s got a sore knee, had a sore knee going into the game. Pushed himself to play but he wasn’t quite right.”
Despite being on one leg, Tomkins came up with a telling contribution but time will tell whether or not he features at Warrington next week with McNamara saying: “We’ll see how he is now.”
TRY! Yaha levels things for Catalans Dragons with his third try of the season 💥
Sam Tomkins conversion attempt hits the post.
🦏 Rhinos 4 – 4 Dragons 🐉 pic.twitter.com/hpM3k455UR
— Sky Sports Rugby League (@SkySportsRL) February 24, 2022
Ultimately, McNamara wanted to shine a light on these players and his wider team who stood up in the cold to defeat the Rhinos. The Dragons now have two wins despite a sluggish start to the season and plenty of injuries and McNamara wanted to identify the effort put in by his side rather than those who were absent: “The thing is, I was pretty sick of hearing about the players Leeds have missing.
“We’re concerned about the players who are playing for us rather than the ones who are not.”