sport

Webster expects physical clash

Wakefield coach James Webster knows his forwards must stand up to a physical onslaught if they are to maintain their unbeaten run and push for a place in the Super League playoffs.

The Wildcats face arguably their toughest assignment since Webster succeeded Richard Agar six weeks ago when they take on Catalan Dragons in the south of France on Saturday.

It is their first away game under Webster, who enjoyed the luxury of starting his reign as head coach with five consecutive home matches which has produced four wins and a draw to banish their relegation fears.

Catalan are notoriously difficult to beat in Perpignan, although reigning champions Wigan withstood a battering to triumph 37-16 at Stade Gilbert Brutus last Saturday.

Vincent Duport and Benjamin Garcia were sin-binned for their part in an ugly clash while Duport and Gregory Mounis were subsequently banned by the Rugby Football League's disciplinary panel.

"I was glad I wasn't playing in that game," said the Australian tactician. "They're a physical team, always have been, always will be.

"There were a couple of things that were borderline silly but there were some things I thought were really good by them. They've got a massive forward pack and they like to throw their weight around so we're going to have to be really good to compete."

Webster, who expects to have his skipper Danny Kirmond back from injury, knows all about the bulk of the Dragons players, having been assistant to French national coach Agar for the 2013 World Cup and he is currently considering an option to continue in the role.

He has signed the Catalans' international prop Mickael Simon for next season and has not ruled out using his French contacts to bring more players from the country to Wakefield.

"I've had plenty of people offered to me from France this year,\" he continued. \"I spent six to eight weeks there for the World Cup and I've got a good understanding of the top 40 or 45 players in France.

"The French market should be utilised more in the coming years. I think they've got some decent young kids coming through there."

The Dragons still have some work to do to secure a top-eight finish while the Wildcats are now looking upwards after securing their top-flight status for 2015 with seven games to spare.

"I'd have bitten your hand off at the start of the year to be in this position now," Webster admitted. "I'm happy that we can now just worry about the last seven games and nothing else."