We take a look at what could lie ahead for Super League champions St Helens and Grand Final runners-up Catalans as both clubs head into the off-season aiming to ensure they stay fighting it out for honours in 2022
St Helens edged out Catalans Dragons 12-10 in this year’s Grand Final to claim a third-straight Super League crown, but what lies ahead for both clubs?
The champions will have a different look next year due to some important members of the squad departing, while the Dragons want to ensure they continue their quest to become the first overseas team to lift the title.
Here, we look at questions facing both clubs heading into the off-season and how they are planning to address them…
Highlights from the Super League Grand Final between Catalans Dragons and St Helens
But head coach Steve McNamara was quick to praise his French contingent, including captain Benjamin Garcia and hard-charging prop Julian Bousquet for their roles in helping Catalans clinch a historic League Leaders’ Shield success and reach a first Grand Final.
Added into that are up-and-coming home-grown talents like Arthur Mourgue – likely to be Maloney’s long-term replacement and capable of filling in for Tomkins at full-back – and Matthieu Laguerre, and McNamara sees those all as key contributors.
“People talk about the young French players we’ve got, but guys like Ben Garcia and Julian Bousquet are as good as any player in the competition,” McNamara said.
“They don’t quite get the credit they deserve, and the Dream Teams disappoint me at times because they are some of the best players in the competition.
2021 Steve Prescott Man of Steel winner Sam Tomkins sits down with ‘Magnifique’ Arthur Mourgue to discuss his breakthrough into the Dragons squad 2021 Steve Prescott Man of Steel winner Sam Tomkins sits down with ‘Magnifique’ Arthur Mourgue to discuss his breakthrough into the Dragons squad
“Yes, our young players are coming through, but across the board everyone has played their part. I am so please there are some young French players who are getting opportunities.”
The aim now is to ensure this Grand Final appearance does not become a one-off for the Dragons, with the knock-on effects for rugby league as a whole in France clear for all to see.
Toulouse Olympique winning promotion to Super League for 2022 as well has given hope of a boom time for the sport in the country, and McNamara knows this is an opportunity his side cannot let slip away.
“What it has done is open up a brand-new market and exposed everybody to a whole new market with Catalans and French rugby league,” McNamara said.