Catalans Dragons vs Warrington Wolves Predictions: Coach Burgess handed a tough start

 | February 16 | 

3 mins read

George Riley Rugby League

Last season’s Grand Finalists Catalans Dragons are the first team to go up against Sam Burgess as a head coach, with the former South Sydney Rabbitohs star taking his Warrington Wolves for a mouth-watering opener in the south of France on Saturday (kick-off 17:30 GMT).

Steve McNamara’s Dragons were once again one of the competition’s most formidable sides last year, only coming up short against champions Wigan at the final hurdle. That, though, was the final game before retirement for legend Sam Tomkins, and much of Catalans’ hopes will depend on how they rebuild without him.

Warrington, meanwhile, have a completely new beginning. Having dismissed veteran coach Daryl Powell in the early stages of his Wolves’ career, they now opt for Burgess, a legendary player but completely unknown quantity as head coach.

Catalans Dragons v Warrington Wolves Tips

  • Catalans to win by 1-12 points @ 9/5
  • Matty Ashton anytime tryscorer @ 5/4

Team news

Dragons captain Ben Garcia misses out, with the France international picking up what the club describe as a minor hamstring injury.

Without the retired Tomkins, the home side will have a completely new spine and six new signings feature in their side, with Theo Fages, Jordan Abdull and Chris Satae all set for their debuts.

Warrington include new faces too, with Sam Powell, Zane Musgrove and Lachlan Fitzgibbon set for their debuts but Brad Dwyer left out. Fellow new signing Rodrick Tai misses out, as do forwards Joe Bullock, Matty Nicholson and Luke Thomas but club skipper Stefan Ratchford should be okay after a calf problem. Paul Vaughan is available after a four-match ban and Toby King is in line for his first Wolves appearance since June 2022.

Catalans Dragons by 1-12 points @ 9/5

Given the wholesale changes at both of these clubs over the winter this is actually a much tougher game to call than the odds would suggest. While the home side are tough to beat at the Stade Gilbert Brutus and understandably big favourites, Warrington enjoyed great success here last year, winning twice in Perpignan in league and cup.

There is an unknown quantity element to both sides at the start of the season, Catalans with a completely new spine, and Warrington with Sam Burgess at the helm – who knows what a Burgess team will look like. One thing is for sure, he will demand they are tough to beat, so don't expect many thumpings.

Few would expect the Wolves to be as poor in 2024 but this looks like one of the toughest starts Burgess could have been handed. Even if the Dragons don’t click, the intimidating atmosphere should give them enough drive to get over the line.

Catalans to beat Warrington by 1-12 points @ 9/5

Matty Ashton anytime tryscorer @ 5/4

Matty Ashton was a shining light through Warrington’s 2023 struggles, finishing as the club’s top try scorer and earned his reward with an England call-up, scoring three tries in the autumn series against Tonga.

This will be his 100th career appearance and he enjoyed the away games at Catalans last year, scoring twice in the Wolves’ Betfred Challenge Cup win there in May.

Matty Ashton to score v Catalans @ 5/4

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