Written by Rugby Football League
It’s either a remarkable third-successive Grand Final win for St Helens or a historic first-ever overseas champion in the form of Catalans Dragons when the Betfred Super League Grand Final takes place tomorrow.
The Betfred Super League Grand Final returns to Old Trafford on Saturday. Following a year’s hiatus, the showpiece event heads back to the Theatre of Dreams in what promises to be an unforgettable affair.
After a gruelling 2021 season packed with unpredictable drama and undeniable action, the two standout teams from this year’s competition go in search of Grand Final immortality.
For League Leaders Catalans Dragons, it’s a chance to etch themselves further into the sport’s history books. After securing their first ever League Leaders’ Shield this season – just three years after their first Challenge Cup triumph – they are now on the brink of ending a fairytale season with victory in their maiden appearance at Old Trafford.
#GrandFinal Media Day ✅#SuperLeague pic.twitter.com/DajtjHypP6
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) October 7, 2021
Despite their dominance this season, Catalans Head Coach and Coach of the Year Steve McNamara, insists the pressure is off his Dragons side. After beating Hull KR in last week’s Semi-Final in front of a sold-out crowd at Stade Gilbert Brutus, his side head to Old Trafford with a weight off their shoulders.
He said: “There was a lot of expectation on the team last week. There was some pressure on our group to get it done. There was satisfaction, there was relief but there were no wild celebrations after the game. And there’s a real focus onto this game now.
“There’s no pressure on us. The pressure was last week. I felt a level of expectation last week. I feel the group are really free this week – I can sense the freedom of the group and we’re a dangerous group when we’re like that.”
The Dragons will need to be at their very best come Saturday Night when they face a St Helens side that have become experts at winning when it matters. After ending a 13-year drought to win the Challenge Cup earlier this season, Saints are now hunting a history-equalling third consecutive Grand Final win.
Head Coach Kristian Woolf believes that their dominance in recent seasons has relieved some of their own pressure heading into the big dance. He is confident that his group have what it takes to get the job done on October 9 – and judging by their recent history, he has every reason to be.
Woolf commented: “There’s no pressure on the group whatsoever this year. With what the groups achieved over the last two years in both the Super League and the Challenge Cup, I think it’s just a really good opportunity to go and enjoy it.
“It’s great to be able to come here and enjoy it a little bit more this year with fans. That’s the key for it with us, we do get to enjoy it a little bit more than what we have in past years because we’ve been there before, we know what it takes, and we’ve got a group of special men who certainly know how to get the job done.”
Amongst that group of men is departing full-back, Lachlan Coote. Since his arrival at the club in 2019, they have been unstoppable. He will play his final game in the Red V on Saturday – moving to Hull KR in 2022 – as he looks to bow out a three-time Grand Final winner with St Helens.
Coote, however, won’t be overawed by the magnitude of the occasion. Despite being back at Old Trafford in front of a bumper crowd, it’s business as usual for Saints.
“We don’t have to do anything different. It’s just about working hard for each other and making those extra efforts.
“If you get caught up in the end result you’ve taken away from the process. The main focus is thinking about what we need to do for that outcome to be achievable.”
St Helens’ focus will need to be razor sharp on Saturday. The Dragons have the upper hand over Saints following a miraculous comeback victory at Dacia Magic Weekend last month.
𝗢𝗹𝗱 𝗧𝗿𝗮𝗳𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗱 𝗶𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗱𝘆. 𝗔𝗿𝗲 𝘆𝗼𝘂? 🏟️#COYS pic.twitter.com/wXtIqtjoSP
— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) October 8, 2021
18 points down with just five minutes remaining, Catalans produced one of the most sensational and memorable performances in recent history – salvaging a golden point win and claiming their first ever League Leaders’ Shield.
Lessons have been learnt from that defeat and Coote is adamant history won’t repeat itself on October 9.
“We touched on that loss after it. There was a good lesson to take out of it as well. We understand what happened and what went wrong.
“I think it’s going to be a totally different game again and that’s the best thing about rugby league, it’s always different and it’s really unpredictable. It’s just about focusing and preparing for the best that we can be for this week.”
As unpredictable as the game can be, one thing is certain. If Catalans are victorious, it will be a monumental moment for rugby league in France. The Dragons have a chance to transcend the sport as they look to build their own dynasty in the South of France.
Joel Tomkins – who played against Catalans in their first ever Super League match back in 2006 – believes victory for the Dragons on Saturday would be a ground-breaking moment for the sport.
Quoi de mieux que le Théâtre des rêves pour accomplir les leurs ? 🏟️https://t.co/ZmCnhgesTp
— Midi Olympique (@midi_olympique) October 8, 2021
“It would be massive. There’s such an appetite for rugby league (in the South of France) – I think this is what this area needs. That success of winning a Grand Final would hopefully be a kick start to the club going on even further.”
Whatever the outcome on Saturday, it will be special. First versus second, history versus three-peat, this contest has all the ingredients to be a classic.
Both sides are close to full strength and “are ready to go at each other” according to Dragons Head Coach, McNamara.
The two squads are unchanged from their respective Semi-Final wins last week – Catalans’ Sam Tomkins will face a late fitness test to prove he has recovered from a knee injury, whilst St Helens’ Morgan Knowles and Sione Mata’utia are free to play after avoiding suspensions following their sin-binnings last week.
Catalans Dragons: Arthur Mourgue, Tom Davies, Samisoni Langi, Dean Whare, Fouad Yaha, James Maloney, Josh Drinkwater, Gil Dudson, Micky McIlorum, Julian Bousquet, Matt Whitley, Mike McMeeken, Benjamin Garcia, Benjamin Jullien, Mickael Goudemand, Matthieu Laguerre, Joel Tomkins, Joe Chan, Sam Kasiano, Sam Tomkins, Jordan Dezaria.
St Helens: Lachlan Coote, Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Mark Percival, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Matty Lees, Joel Thompson, Morgan Knowles, Sione Mata’utia, LMS, Kyle Amor, Agnatius Paasi, Jack Welsby, Aaron Smith, Joe Batchelor, Lewis Dodd, Jake Wingfield, Ben Davie
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