22nd September 2017, 11:11 | super_league

Dragons prepare for their 'Grand Final'

Dragons prepare for their 'Grand Final'

Catalans Dragons chief executive Christophe Jouffret says the future of the French Betfred Super League club will be at stake this weekend.

The Dragons' final Super 8s fixture against Widnes Vikings in Perpignan on Saturday is seen as the most important in their 12-year history, with the winners assured of a place in the top flight for 2018 and the losers facing a shoot-out with Leigh Centurions in the Million Pound Game a week later.

"It's the most important game in the history of our club," said Jouffret. "It's a Grand Final for us. As you can imagine, we are all on the nerves. The future of the club is at stake on Saturday. There will be a lot of pressure."

Jouffret says he has already discussed the subject of relegation with Hull KR chief executive Mike Smith, whose side lost the Million Pound Game last October but have bounced back straight away.

Asked if the club had a contingency plan in the event of relegation, Jouffret said: "Yes for sure. We don't want to think too much about that, we are trying to be positive, but in the corner of my mind it's there.

"As a CEO I have to think about it and about the finance of the club and all that. Last week I talked with Mike Smith at Hull KR about what happened for him last year. I don't sleep very well.

"We all hope we are going to win on Saturday."

Catalans coach Steve McNamara, who took over from Laurent Frayssinous with just five games to go before the split for the Super 8s, admitted after last week's nail-biting 20-19 win over Hull KR that the pressure was beginning to affect his players. 

"Steve McNamara doesn't want to change too much," Jouffret added. "He wants to take pressure off the players."

McNamara, the former England head coach, has guided the team to four wins in the Qualifiers but all have been against Championship opposition and although Widnes have never won in Perpignan, they held the home side to a 14-14 draw in March.

Vikings coach Denis Betts has the experienced Aaron Heremaia back from injury to help offset the loss of Wales hooker Lloyd White with a torn hamstring.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Warrington Wolves will hope to send Smith out on a high against Hull KR when he takes charge of his last match while Wakefield Trinity and Wigan Warriors complete the Super 8s format when they meet at Belle Vue.