Catalan Dragons: Laurent Frayssinous aims to build on efforts of Trent Robinson
Last Updated: February 1, 2013 2:23pm
Leon Pryce: impressed for the Dragons after opting to continue his career in France
Trent Robinson left the Dragons in rude health. Now new boss Laurent Frayssinous will look to continue the upward curve of the Catalan team.
It is a measure of where the Dragons now stand that they will be somewhat disappointed at how their season finished last time out. Back-to-back play-off defeats were a serious disappointment, particularly as it ended the reign of Trent Robinson.
Coach: Laurent Frayssinous (since October 2012)
Co-captains: Gregory Mounis and Remi Casty
2012 finish: 4th
Out: Clint Greenshields (North Queensland), Setaimata Sa (London Irish RU), David Ferriol, Sebastien Raguin, Ben Fisher (all retired), Cyril Stacul (Pia)
In: Zeb Taia (Newcastle), Brent Webb (Leeds), Olivier Elima (Bradford)
However, to just reflect on those losses to Wigan and Leeds would be to dismiss the efforts of Super League's French representatives over the entire campaign.
They improved from sixth in 2011 to fourth last year, winning 18 games and reaching the last eight of the Challenge Cup.
They got off to an excellent start with three straight wins, including a 34-32 success away at St Helens that saw Daryl Millard surely score the try of the season to clinch it at the death.
Unlike in previous years, they were impressive at home and were never too reliant on too few. Clint Greenshields top-scored with 18 tries and Scott Dureau formed an excellent half-back partnership with Leon Pryce, but it wasn't all about their so-called big names.
Vincent Duport crossed 17 times and they continue to churn out big, bruising forwards who never take a backward step. While being beaten at home by the Rhinos in an elimination semi-final wasn't the perfect end for Robinson's time in France, he did do a superb job whilst in Perpignan.
Ins out Outs
Laurent Frayssinous is the new man in charge of Les Catalans - he has signed a two-year deal and in doing so became the youngest coach in the competition at just 35.
The former French international couldn't be taking over at a better time. There has been no major upheaval in the squad going into the 2013 campaign, with it mostly being a case of one in, one out.
Stalwarts David Ferriol and Sebastien Raguin have departed, but the French club have welcomed back Olivier Elima from Bradford. The second-rower returns for a second spell with the Dragons, pledging his future for this year and next after expressing a desire to return home.
Greenshields has ended his six-year association with the Dragons to join the North Queensland Cowboys. Catalan replaced him with another experienced full-back with Super League experience in former Leeds Rhino Brent Webb.
There has been one new recruit from overseas, Zeb Taia being snapped up from Newcastle Knights to fill the void leg by Setimanta Sa, who has switched codes to play for London Irish in the Aviva Premiership.
Olivier Elima: has returned to France to help bolster the Dragons' pack
"The Dragons have endured a season-long slump in the past (it is easy to forget they finished bottom of the pile in 2010) but even with the departure of Robinson and the absence of Dureau for the opening rounds, they should still be challenging again for a top-four finish.
Robinson's decision to make French the club's first language will make the transition to new boss Frayssinous even smoother, while he now has David Waite and Jerome Guisset alongside him as assistants.
Dureau will be sidelined for the start after having a tumour removed from behind his eye, with the operation thankfully encountering no complications.
With his half-back partner missing, even more will fall onto the sizeable shoulders of Leon Pryce to spark the Dragons as an attacking force.
If he can, points shouldn't be in short supply. Damiens Blanch and Cardace - one of five homegrown talents to be promoted to the first team - should get plenty of chances on the wings, while Webb is always a dangerous attacking option from full-back.
Up front the pack has power in plentiful supply. Elima bolsters the front row and the Perpignan club have strength in depth to cover for injuries. Getting into the play-offs should be the least of their expectations for 2013."